The word "organic" refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, without any use of toxic, persistent pesticides, fertilizers which are known to contaminate soil, air, water and the food, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products.
Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution.
Farmers who grow organic produce do not use fertilizers, weedicides, genetically modified organisms etc. For example, rather than using chemical herbicides, organic farmers may do crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds at bay.
Synthetic fertilizer and pesticides are banned in organic farming. Instead, it relies on natural manure and neem and other bio-pesticides.
More than just a label, organic is a lifestyle and it starts from the moment food products are grown. There has been a major shift in consumer preferences for organic foods with purchases notching a hike of 95 percent in the past five years, the survey by ASSOCHAM said.
In India, agriculture plays a vital role in the growth of the economy. The government of India now offers strong support and is promoting organic farming as it will increase the contribution of the agricultural sector to the GDP of the country.
Across the globe, consumers now have become more health conscious.
There has been a growing awareness amongst the Indian consumers about the importance of nutrition, health, and quality of food they eat, thereby resulting in an increasing adoption of organic food since it is free from any harmful pesticides and chemicals. It is rich in antioxidants and serves for better nutrition, better taste and better ecology.
So, the big question is - Why organic?
It is a common misconception that the conventional food that we eat when washed thoroughly, removes all harmful pesticides and chemicals and the food becomes completely safe and edible.
Fact is pesticide residues and heavy metals accumulate inside the plant produce and get into our system when we consume it. Water does not necessarily wash away the chemical residues.
Daily intake of pesticides ranges from 147pc to 7218pc for adults and for kids it is estimated to be 214pc to 7218pc , and that's so called SAFE, in India.
Studies at Agency for Toxic Substances and disease registry, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services prove that organic foods have 27pc more vitamin C, 21.1pc more iron, 29.3pc more magnesium, and 13.6pc more phosphorus, than any of the conventional food items.
Pesticide residues in conventional food suppress body's immune system, normal growth of nervous system and cognitive development. Also, a steady deterioration in male reproductive health has been reported with the regular use of conventional agricultural products.
Many state governments have woken up to the importance of organic farming and have announced several incentives for farmers to go organic.
Organic foods have higher nutritional value than conventional food, according to multiple researches reports.
Some studies have linked pesticides in our food to everything from headaches to cancer to birth defects. A few experts maintain that the residue levels in conventional food are safe for most healthy adults.
But even low-level pesticide exposure, however, can be significantly more toxic for fetuses and children, due to their less-developed immune systems.
For pregnant women, chemical residue laden food can put added strain on their already taxed organs. Prolonged and continuous use of organic products will result in the human body developing a natural immune system to fight disease.
"Consumers who wish to minimize their dietary pesticide exposure can consume organically grown food. Even when it is about processed food, processed organic foods are better than processed conventional foods," says Nirupama Raghavan, Manager R and D, Sresta Natural Bio-products Ltd.
"Most of the harmful food additives like artificial flavorings, synthetic colors, and hydrogenated fats are banned under organic standards. The organic cold pressed oils are just expelled, pressed and filtered and hold all the essential nutrients like lecithin, natural Vitamin E and photochemical.
"On the other hand, conventional refined oils are solvent extracted, bleached and de-waxed stripping them of all naturally present nutrients," says Raghavan.
In the wake of alarms over poor diet, junk food and rising obesity levels, the acceptance of organic food provides a welcome relief.
Going organic and consuming pesticide free food will eventually lead to a better health for us and for our families.
--IBNS (Posted on 29-10-2013)