What is the Difference Between Organic and Non-GMO Food?
by Guest Blogger – Jenni Oscar
The organic boom has hit the US as hard as it has the rest of the world. With research carried out over the past decade showing that organic foods are healthier (because they contain higher levels of antioxidants and lower levels of metals such as cadmium), more and more families are keen to fuel up on fresh, seasonal, organic fruits and vegetables to help stick to a healthy weight and avoid the health risks associated with pesticides. One recent study has shown that when it comes to organic shopping, however, we may be getting it wrong; that is, many Americans confuse the terms ‘organic’ and ‘non-GMO’ (non-Genetically Modified).
Organic vs non-GMO
The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Florida, found that consumers often view these two labels as synonymous. In fact, there is a big difference. When in doubt, organic is the better way to go because foods grown in this manner do not use GMOs but also contain no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, growth promoting antibiotics, or sewage sludge, not to mention residues of harmful drugs such as ractopamine or neurotoxins.
On the other hand, food can be non-GMO (not genetically modified) yet still contain these harmful ingredients.
Elements such as ‘sewage sludge’ (a produce of wastewater treatment), sometimes used to grow non-GMO produce, can contain everything from heavy metals to pharmaceuticals and pesticides and these toxins can be absorbed by growing plants. Herbicides like glyphosate, meanwhile, are linked to breast cancer and other serious diseases.
The term ‘organic’ doesn’t just cover produce, of course; organic animals are also raised without growth promoting antibiotics (these medications are a serious concern for the rise of the superbug phenomenon).
Organic Purchasing Follows a Scale
Another study undertaken at Aarhus University in Denmark, has found that once consumers try organics, they become ‘hooked’. Usually, our experience with organics begins with just one item – for instance, organic milk. The researchers noted, “We are dealing with an escalator where the upwards movement is taking place automatically. Once you’ve purchased your first organic product, you’re not likely to stop.” That is, after making their first purchase, consumers move on to items like organic vegetables, eggs, baking ingredients and so forth.
Researchers postulate that going organic is related to our perception of ourselves as moral human beings. Once we make that connection, we don’t tend to break it.
Growing Organics at Home
The popularity of organics is prompting many families to grow their own fruits and vegetables in their gardens or terraces. Even those with limited space are using pots to grow succulents such as aloe, which can form part of an organic skincare routine thanks to its ability to:
- moisturise skin
- soothe the scalp
- soothe sunburn, frostbite and psoriasis
- help heal cold sores
Herbs such as rosemary and flowering plants like lavender are also easy to grow and can be used in dishes and skincare (to make products such as astringents, toners, and acne treatments).
If you are keen to avail of the health benefits of the organic lifestyle, start small if you wish, but make sure you know the difference between organic and non-GMO foods, and check labels before making a purchase. If you have a green thumb, growing your own garden or using pots to grow succulents like aloe, cactus, and herbs, will help keep your life pesticide- and chemical-free.
Dr. Taggart specializes in Functional Medicine, and can help you deal with the difficulties of chronic health issues as well as how to eat a nutritional diet that will give your body and your brain the boost they need.