Organic farming refers to a system of agricultural practices that respects natural life-cycle systems. It selects plants that are natural to the season and location, it rules out chemical synthetic pesticides and synthetic fertilisers, it uses on-site resources like livestock manure for fertiliser, it uses on-site resources for animal feed, it raises animals outside on organic feed, it mostly prohibits additives and preservatives,
it prohibits genetically modified organisms, and so forth.
Organic has become one of those buzzwords that makes the sceptics among us wonder whether it is genuinely beneficial or whether it is just another marketing fad. Organic food is actually healthier, which is why most of our superfood powders are organic. Those that are not organic are wild harvested, which has most of the same benefits.
Organic food is advantageous in three different ways: it is healthier because of what it contains, it is healthier because of what it excludes, and it is friendlier to the environment and the plant and animal life with which we share the planet.
What Organic Food Contains
Organic food and the powders made from them are more nutrient-dense than processed or industrially-farmed products. Numerous studies have confirmed this, including a massive official European Union funded study, called the ‘Quality Low Input Food Project’, that found organic food to contain 40 percent more antioxidants than non-organic food, 60 per cent more healthy fats than processed food, and superior levels of especially vitamins E and C, among others.
A recent literature review of 343 studies, the largest of its kind ever, found that the majority concluded that organic products contained more antioxidants, vitamins, proteins, and fibre.
None of this is particularly surprising. Industrial farmers' repeated use of chemical fertilisers strips the nutrition from the soil in which the food is planted, while organic farmers' use of natural fertilisers, which are mostly normal manure, feeds the soil with the nutrition contained in the food the providers of the manure consumed. Moreover, industrial farming repeatedly plants the same crops in the same soil, which depletes it of nutrients. Organic farming, on the other hand, practices crop rotation, whereby crops are alternated to feed and/or preserve the soil.
What Organic Food Excludes
Organic food excludes chemical pesticides and fertilisers that have been linked to infertility, depression, many different types of cancer, and attention deficit disorder, among others. If the point of taking a superfood powder is to become healthier, there is hardly any point to produce powders based on mass production practices that will make you sicker that you have ever been. The Soil Association is currently trying to collect funds from the public to conduct a large study on the long-term use of industrial versus organic farming practices on the quality of British soil.
Since the manure used as fertiliser for organic food comes from animals that are fed on organically produced feed, it contains no artificial hormones or other biochemicals that can harm us. The sewer sludge that is used on many industrial farms in the place of chemical fertilisers, on the other hand, contains everything people eat, including synthetic medication and the food additives from which we are trying to escape by eating organic. Even worse, it contains the chemicals with which we clean our toilets, the drain cleaner with which we unblock our drains, the heavy metals that leak from old pipes, and so on. This is all too disgusting to contemplate, not to mention far from giving us nutritious benefits!
Non-organic food often contains preservatives to make it stay fresh for longer. Many preservatives have been found to lead to serious diseases, including cancer. The problem is that preservatives are used in our food before it is properly tested and authorised as safe by regulators, which does not inspire much confidence. In fact, many non-organic foods are now preserved through irradiation to kill living organisms. This electromagnetic radiation, usually in the form of gamma rays, alters the molecular structure of the food.
Many non-organic foods are genetically altered to grow faster or to grow in environments for which they are unsuitable. This requires that they are made to be resistant to a whole range of things that kill other food plants. The problem is that particularly strong herbicides are then required to control them. A recent study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a member of the World Health Organisation, found that the herbicide glyphosate, the one standardly used on all genetically modified grains, is probably carcinogenic to humans. This should come as no surprise to countries like Argentina and Sri Lanka, who have long banned its use because of the concern that it causes kidney disease.
The other concern regarding genetically modified food is that it simply is not natural and this creates health questions that the medical community cannot yet answer. At this stage there is no research that concludes that the long-term consumption of genetically modified organisms is safe. The situation mirrors the great rise in refined carbohydrates over the last few decades. At first it was considered to be a good way to create tasty fluffy-textured foods to convince people to eat more healthy grains. Over time, an increasingly large number of studies found that it was unhealthy because of artificially altering the grains' cellular structure.
At this stage genetically modified foods are believed to be the solution to world hunger and malnutrition. Studies on their short-term use draw different conclusions with regard to their safety. It is persistent long-term consumption that is important, however, because that is what can have potentially serious health consequences.
Chemical pesticides cause diseases in the animals that consume them. These are probably roughly similar to the diseases that human beings suffer in response to pesticides. If masses and masses of sick and dead animals do not bother you, the fact that they further spread the chemicals along the food chain might. A cow eats feed treated with a pesticide after which you eat the cow. Or pesticides run into a river after which you eat plants watered with that water. Whichever way the insecticide is introduced into the food chain, it will ultimately damage insects, birds, mammals, plants, and people. The healthy insects and birds on organic farms actually serve as natural pest control, so the farmers benefit from having them around.
Through frequent low-level exposure to a pesticide, some insects and plants will build up resistance to it. This can create stubborn insecticide resistant insect and weed plagues that are difficult to control. The solution? Develop an even more densely concentrated insecticide that is probably even more harmful to the environment. Ultimately, this cycle can be expected to finish off many people, plants, and animals that would otherwise have stayed alive.
Organic farming includes healthy practices like cover crops and crop rotation to preserve the soil. As seen earlier, crop retention preserves the soil by alternating crops instead of repeatedly re-planting the same crops on the same piece of land. A cover crop is a crop planted to feed the soil and to protect the real crops against wind and water erosion. These are usually small grains and pulses, grown as cover and not specifically to be harvested. Organic farming, thus, preserves the soil while non-organic farming erodes layers of soil until no further planting is possible.
Organic farming is water wise. Industrial farming contaminates a lot of the planet's water through pesticides that run into rivers. This is then consumed by many animals and often by people. Industrial farming also uses more water, because its poorly fertilised soil needs it.
Unlike industrial farming that uses a lot of fossil fuel to make pesticides and fertiliser, organic farming contributes relatively little to air pollution and global warming. Practices like minimum tillage, cover crops, and the return of crop residues to the soil traps carbon in the soil where plants can use them. This contrasts with industrial farming where the carbon is released into the atmosphere.
Organic farming produces more biodiversity in plants and animals than industrial farming by refraining from washing waste into the rivers and soil that other animals use. With so many of our insects and birds dying out, this is a major advantage.
These are the reasons why Water for Health opts for organic and wild harvested superfood powders. As you can see, they are not only more nutritious and healthy for you and your loved ones, but also kinder to our environment.