Know Your Organic Food or KYOF

Know Your Organic Food or KYOF

At a simplistic level – organic food is he food that is grown without using synthetic chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers for a higher yield and/ or enhanced size, shape and taste. Scientifically speaking; organic foods do not contain synthetic or lab processed chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, genetically modified DNA or genes of crop, artificial colors, preservatives, hormones and/or antibiotics. Organic farming and/or organic processing seeks to retain and enhance the nutritional content of food through practices such as
– Avoiding polishing/de-skinning of grains
– Cold pressing of oils to avoid hydrogenation,
– Usage of natural fertilizers, manures and pesticides and at a level that is optimum for human consumption and soil conservation.
– Crop rotation and hand weeding techniques are followed to prevent/destroy insects and weeds;
– Absence of any radiation processes.
– Non-usage of GMO seeds.
– The shelf life of food is not enhanced using preservatives. Organic food decays after its stipulated shelf life.
– No artificial colors and /or preservatives are used to enhance the size, shape and taste.
– Organic animal produce requires animals to be reared in a natural environment and on a proper diet. Usage of animal incubators and animal factories are proscribed. Animals are not given un-necessary supplements of hormones and antibiotics to artificially increase their size.

The benefits of eating organic are –
– The risk of food poisoning, allergies is NIL
– Organically grown food show higher amount of nutrients compared to non-organic or conventional food such as; 27% more vitamin C, 29% more magnesium, 21% more iron, 14% more phosphorous.
– Particularly in spinach, lettuce, cabbage and potatoes high levels are minerals are packed compared to conventionally or non-organically grown produce
– Good levels of phenolics compound is found in organically grown fruits. This compound is needed for human body to perform anti-oxidant-activity (AOA) which reduces risk of degenerative conditions/diseases (The Phenolic compound is naturally generated by plants to ward off attacks by pests and can be used by human body for anti-oxidant-activity. However this is only true for only organically grown crops )

Identifying Organic food
– Look for the label/logo of the certification body that has monitored and approved the production and processing of the food item as Organic.
– Know about the suppliers that are authorized to sell organic food and ensure that the labeling is honest.
– The price of organic food is about 10% to 200% more expensive than non-organic food depending on availability and scale
* Last but not least and a very important factor in checking the genuineness of organic food is that it normally takes about double the amount of time to cook when compared to non-organic varieties. Also when soaked for a long period of time, organic legumes, grains or pulses do not become soft or break easily and the skin only slightly shrinks. The reason is that synthetic chemicals make the grains light or hollow whereas organic grain tends to be denser and fuller.

Organic Food is expensive is often a reason for folks to hold back on making an organic commitment. However – it is important to remember that the main benefit of organic food is that it prevents disease – and that the cost of illness is something we often don’t consider. Additionally – it’s expensive if we consume wastefully. If we were to make a careful list of what we really need to consume on a monthly basis and focus on that – the incremental cost would normally be the cost of eating out once ! Sales of organic and more responsibly produced food are on the rise, and like anything, if we demand more, more will become widely available. Every time we choose to buy an organic product we’re voting for a better food system. We don’t need to be organic all the time -If we can all start to re-address what we buy, cook and eat, gradually buying better and wasting less, that’s only going to move our food system forward in a positive and more sustainable way.

GO Organic – its good both for us and our planet !

Dr. Sangeeta Soman – Nutrionist and Advisor to Conscious Food