ORGANIC FOOD- A HEALTHY OPTION
Organic food means the food which is grown without chemicals, fertilizers and insecticides. In the present situations such types of food are popular among the people of developed countries as they prefer to avoid the food grown with chemical(s) in their daily life. Countries like United States, Japan, Australia, etc. invest in large projects that target to grow organic foods. Such projects are largely supported by their respective governments and growers’ organizations. Organically grown crops tend to utilize natural fertilizers like organic manures to cater the plant growth and reproduction. Presently the organic food market is growing at a rate of 25-30% but the awareness about organic farming still needs more recognition and attention. Indian conditions are feasible for growing of all kinds of organic foods. However, farmers still need to be educated to boost organic cultivation. They should be made aware about the associated benefits of organic farming such as conservation of natural resources like land and water which will culminate into augmentation of the farm income by practising it.
The associated benefits of organic food:
How our food is grown definitely has a great impact on health (physical, mental and emotional) as well as the environment. Organic foods are often rich in beneficial nutrients such as antioxidants which are generally deficient in their conventionally-grown counterparts. Moreover, people with allergies to foods, chemicals or preservatives, often find the respective symptoms lessen or go away when they consume only organic foods. Some of the major benefits associated with organic food are as follows:
- Chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides and insecticides are widely used in conventionally grown crops and their residues remain on /in the foods we eat. Organic produce contains these pesticides well below the detectable level.
- Organic food is relatively fresher because it doesn’t contain preservatives that make it last longer.
- Organic farming is also safer for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution, soil erosion, energy requirement, conserve water, and increase soil fertility. Farming without pesticides is also better especially for the local birds and animals as well as for populace who live close to farms.
- Organically raised animals are not generally required to be given antibiotics, growth hormones or fed animal by-products. Consumption of livestock animal by-products may increase the risk of diseases such as mad cow disease and their treatment with the use of antibiotics can create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
- Organic meat and milk are richer in certain nutrients. Results of recent study show that levels of certain nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50% higher in organic meat and milk than in conventionally raised versions.
- For increasing the quantitative and qualitative yields natural plants are subjects to genetic Engineering (GE). Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) alter the DNA of the plants in ways that do not occur naturally or in traditional crossbreeding in order to infuse the desired traits to create resistance in the targeted plants against pesticides or insecticide.
- Organic foods contain phenolic compounds which help in building strong immune system, preventing from diseases and curing illness; thus help to lead a healthy life. Organic fruits and vegetables contain up to 40% more antioxidants than their traditional counterparts. Studies show higher nutrient level in organic foods ensuring high food quality. Organic foods also have potentially higher amount of biotoxins along with antioxidants.
- Environmental Value: Since in organic food production use of chemicals is strictly forbidden, thus making them eco-friendly. Because of the reason it has been taken largely by government in developing countries like India.
- Low cost production: As we do not use fertilizers in this type of food, soproduction cost of organic food is less. These foods are environment friendly and risk free to consume. In the present era people are more inclined to consuming organic foods as these are free from all types of chemicals and harmful substances.
- Nutrients status of organic food: Although it is inconclusive to state that organic food is more nutritious than the conventional food as some researchers claim that conventional food has more minerals and vitamins than the organic food. But it is also fact that organic food lowers the risk of entry of harmful chemicals in human body.
As today’s food demand is very high so farmers have to produce huge quantities of food to fulfil the increasing demand. Since most of the produce is to be preserved for future selling and consumption so, the help chemical and preservatives is required for doing so. Consumption of such food may lead to many problems such as kidney failure and other diseases leading to many complications. So from the safety point of view, organic food is today’s utmost need. Although organic farming system cannot immediately produce huge yields that are produced by chemicals, but the end results of organic farming-healthy soil, better quality crops and healthier populace- are more than worthwhile. Most importantly, farming organically will mean preserving this life for the gen-next. Therefore, at present several countries take necessary steps to grow organic food for avoiding chemical mixed foods, thereby the people save themselves from fatal diseases and other ailments.
Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, SGT University, Gurgaon, has taken a stride in this direction and has been producing organic vegetables and annual crops albeit at a small scale. The step will certainly boost the mind set of food growers to follow the path and adopt the system.