Today’s fruits and vegetables are often genetically altered. Think about seedless watermelons or even an ear of corn. Watermelons need seeds to become a plant to produce another melon to spread seeds. Seedless watermelons are genetically altered so they only end up producing very few, underdeveloped seeds. When the Pilgrims landed in the New World, corn did not look the way it does today. It was multicolored and did not have perfectly aligned rows of kernels. These genetically altered foods are not as beneficial to our bodies as growing organic foods.
What does it mean to be organic? Growing organic foods means not using chemicals, including fertilizers and pesticides. Organic foods have higher levels of polyphenols, antioxidants that make fruits and vegetables healthy for us. The levels are typically 5% to 15% higher than those commercially produced. The levels have actually been recorded as high as 30% and even 100% greater than commercially grown foods.
Being that organic growing doesn’t implement pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides, one might wonder how they will protect their plants. Organic plants rely less on external protection and fortify themselves with their own natural defenses against pests. These natural defenses also help maintain a longer shelf life by staving off the growth of molds. Fertilizers can help increase the amount of plants grown, but they also reduce amount of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Organic foods contain a high diversity of beneficial microbes in them. Commercial foods lack this. What this translates to is that when a pathogen for food poisoning pops up, it’s more likely to take root in the commercial foods because there is nothing to reduce the pathogen’s influence. The pathogen can still latch onto organic foods, but may not be as strong.
Pesticide use has been shown to contribute to developmental disorders and lower IQ scores. Children are especially at risk due to their small size and developing immune systems. It is important if you are pregnant to take extra care to avoid foods linked with pesticides, and continue to use organic foods through the first couple years of life.
When it comes to organic versus commercially produced fruits and vegetables, organic foods have higher levels of antioxidants and beneficial microbes. While healthy adults don’t have a high risk of developing problems by eating non-organic foods, switching to organic foods can still help improve your quality of life.
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