Soil Association Organic Standard

Healthy food from The Organic Farm Shop

Is organic food healthier than conventional food?

Anyone who buys organic food will have come across someone claiming there is no scientific evidence for organic food being more healthy. But the organic food market is growing by 20% a year. So what's the answer, is eating organic food healthier or not?

Organic food is produced without conventional pesticides or artificial fertilisers. Pesticides are chemicals lethal to various forms of life, so the less of those we spray around, and the less of it on our food, the better. Some pesticides are carcinogenic (cancer causing). So one benefit of organic food is that whereas conventional crops bring small residues of those chemicals to the table, organic brings far less. And it means there's less pesticide on the land, in the groundwater, and in our rivers and streams.

Apples from The Organic Farm Shop

Does organic food contain more nutrients?

Conventional farming uses chemical fertilisers to grow crops on soil that becomes less fertile over time. Organic farming uses organic fertilisers on the land to build up the fertility of the soil so the plants that grow there are healthier and more able to withstand pests and diseases. Does it make sense that eating healthy plants will help us be healthier?

Here's the big issue. When science measures nutrient value, it only checks a few big-name nutrients. Our bodies, however, have evolved to use all sorts of secondary chemicals that simply don't feature on the scientific and conventional farming radar. Organic produce is food grown on rich soil that's full of nutrients and chemicals we probably haven't even studied yet. It's the food we have evolved to eat.

Nevertheless, according to Wikipedia the biggest study of organic food was recently completed and showed up to 40% more antioxidants in organic food than conventional equivalents.

Lettuce from The Organic Farm Shop

What about the environment?

Good soil supports an amazing variety of life. The organic idea is balance. Perhaps there are some bugs on the plants in the farm, but so long as there are predators such as ladybirds to eat them, we won't get overrun and everything balances nicely. And of course, that all gives plenty for the birds to eat. One of the best things about arriving at The Organic Farm Shop on a summer's day is just listening to the birdsong and watching the butterflies.

What's the price of that? What's the health benefit of bees and butterflies and birdsong, of beautiful countryside? It's unquantifiable. But it works: doctors routinely now give out "go for regular walks" as part of the solution for depression.

When you buy things, you support what's behind it, what went into creating it. By choosing what you buy, you can change the world. If you want a healthy and diverse environment and to help your body stay healthy, you can support organic farming by buying organic.