Organic and Chemical-Free Foods - Overview
Why does organic food usually cost more?
Food that's grown organically may cost more than conventionally grown foods for many reasons, including these:
- It takes more labor to grow plants and
raise animals without the help of chemical fertilizers, pesticides (chemicals
that kill pests), and drugs.
- It can cost organic cattle ranchers
twice as much to feed their animals, because they must use organic
- Conventional, or nonorganic, farmers and ranchers often get
money from the government so that they can sell their food for lower prices.
Many organic farms are too small to get this help from the government.
You may be able to
save money by shopping around. Sometimes the price of organic products is close to the price of conventional ones, especially when they are in season or on sale.
What do you need to know about organic food?
More and more organic foods are showing up in the
produce aisles of local grocery stores. It can be confusing to know when to buy
organic versions of your favorite foods. Many people buy organic food because they are worried
about the environment. And many people buy organic food to avoid chemicals, especially
pesticides, in their food.
You may have these questions about
- Is it safer?
Foods with the organic label have much less pesticide residue compared with most nonorganic foods. Foods grown with pesticides can have small
amounts of pesticide left on the food when it gets to the store. Studies have
shown that being exposed to large amounts of pesticides can cause harm. But
they have not shown that the amounts of pesticides left on most nonorganic foods are
enough to cause harm.
- Is it more nutritious? There is not
enough evidence to say that organic food is more nutritious than nonorganic
- Is it better for children? Children
may be more sensitive than adults to pesticides and other chemicals because they are still growing. And they
eat more food for their weight than adults do. Products such as organic milk
and organic baby food can be good choices for your peace of
- Does it taste better? There is no
evidence that organic food tastes better just because it's organic. But organic
food is usually fresher, because it doesn't contain preservatives and it needs
to be eaten sooner. Fresher food usually tastes better.
- Is it better for the environment? In general, yes. Many organic farmers and ranchers
work to conserve water and soil. Pesticides can kill birds and small animals
and make it hard for them to reproduce, so using less of these toxic chemicals
is good for the environment.
- Is it better for animals? Usually, but conditions vary. For example, organic ranchers must
let their cattle graze in open pastures. But some ranchers do that only part of
the time, confining the animals to corrals the rest of the time. Most chickens raised on conventional farms live in crowded conditions, so they are given antibiotics to keep them from getting sick. Organic chickens can't be given antibiotics, so they are provided with more living space and access to the outdoors.