Benefits of Organic Agriculture — VS Conventional Methods

Over the past decade the increasing awareness of quality food products has created a massive global demand for organic foods. In order to meet this demand, each facet of the current food system is radically adjusting with farmers producing more organic foods, grocery stores creating designated organic sections, and specialty restaurants serving only certified products. However, while most people are familiar with the consumer end of organic produce, the majority of people remain unaware of the agricultural components.

Technically speaking organic is a term that, while varying slightly in different countries, generally refers to foods that are either 100% organic, or made up of 95% organic ingredients. This means that the word has a legal definition and in order for a food product to be considered organic, it must have been cultivated on a farm that follows strict preset guidelines. This specific criteria puts certified organic products in their own unique category, unlike many other food claims such as “natural” or “healthy” which are much more ambiguous and lack strict regulation.

The rules that organic farms must comply are set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture Organic Program, and are very similar in most developed countries. This program prohibits the use irradiation -which is the application of radiation to aid in preservation and transportation of some foods, as well as the use of genetically engineered products (GMOs), and the application of human waste (sewage sludge) as fertilizer. Certified farms are also only allowed to apply approved materials to their fields and crops; this means that synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are banned, although there are some naturally derived sprays that are allowed. The USDA also requires a 3-year period of following these guidelines before the products gain their official organic status, once certification is received, advisors conduct random checks on farms to ensure continued compliance. For meat to be labeled organic there are separate guidelines, which require livestock to be raised in an environment that supports their natural behavior, be fed 100% organic feed, and not be administered any growth hormones or antibiotics.

The previous explanation is the more technical side of organic farming, however there is also the more holistic environmental and human health aspect of organic food cultivation. To put it simply, organic agriculture is meant to preserve and support natural resources, biodiversity, and animal welfare. For example, conventional agriculture relies heavily on the use of chemical sprays to kill insects and weeds, as well as applying fertilizer. These sprays can have negative impacts on local wildlife and insects, as well as leaching into and polluting water systems. On the other hand, organic farmers rely almost exclusively on crop cycling and animal manure as fertilizer, which promotes a natural cycling of nutrients creating a more sustainable system as well as improving soil health.

Another issue that many people have with conventional agriculture is the use of GMO crops such as corn that have been genetically engineered to resist primarily used herbicides. This means that farmers are able to apply massive quantities of plant killing chemicals to their fields without having to worry about the corn being killed, this can result in food products being harvested with high levels of chemical residue on them.

Most importantly, organic agriculture, although not always perfect, promotes the idea that we should be producing food in a way that ensures the long-term health and wellbeing of our natural resources, and does so in a way that allows for the sustainable cultivation of healthy foods for centuries to come. Unfortunately at this point, many companies have found ways to exploit USDA’s organic criteria allowing them to produce foods bearing the certified organic emblem that have not been produced in an environmentally sustainable way. At the same time, there are many farms that lack the logistical and financial requirements to become certified, but may be cultivating sustainable high quality foods. For instance, compare an “organic” tomato grown on a large scale farm in Mexico that is shipped thousands of miles, with a non-certified tomato that was grown up the street by a small acreage farmer; which one is truly promoting human and environmental well being? It is for this reason that the certified organic sticker should be taken into account when selecting food products, but not necessarily viewed as the sole indicator of a products true quality.

Lissie Flowers

Prentice Hall Biology Textbook: Student Edition Solutions & Answers

The “Prentice Hall Biology” by K. Miller was a great fit for the school’s biology curriculum, although it is challenging it is thorough and well worthwhile. Especially when combined with both the textbooks answers and guided solutions.

The best textbook answers can be found from this site.

Please note, these are not just the answers but guided solutions created by experts for the textbook are included for easy comprehension of each problem.

It helped me tremendously, and I’m convinced it will help you too.

Prentice Hall Biology

Perhaps one of my favorite biology textbooks, “Prentice Hall Biology” has a student friendly approach that offers a solid basis for key concepts. Being able to focus on the most important biology concepts through examples, analogies and inspiring narrative is one of the key strengths to the contents of this textbook for students.

Students of different levels can benefit from the easily understandable but comprehensive contents. The Student Edition was originally published in 2007 yet it still provides a solid basis for biology studies.

I have also read, that the the textbook uses an approach that is proven and research-based, this has set the standard of many biology books and a provided a resource for all students. And I’m certain the the book has provided that.

Textbook name: “Prentice Hall Biology “.

Published by Prentice Hall.

Written by Kenneth R. Miller and Joseph S. Levine.

Answers: 2558 step-by-step solutions, solved by professors & experts.

Any questions about this textbook or others?
I’m happy to receive comments as well!

Kind regards, Lissie.

Toddlers Aware! Organic Beijing Kung Fu at Red Theatre

Previously we featured the all magnificent acrobatics show in the capital of China, but this time we take this opportunity to introduce something equally great happening in the city. Extremely popular with the toddlers, and very closely knit to our organic, natural lifestyle is the “Red Theatre Beijing” venue which hosts a legendary kung fu show like no other. Thanks to the funding of DinDins Food we were able to get a up and close glimpse of this brilliant start that shines in the nightlife of one of the most exciting spectacle filled places we know. Proudly presenting you our humble introduction to the show, enjoy!

Red Theatre & China Heaven Creations

The China Heaven Creation International Performing Arts Company presents The Legend of Kung Fu show, which is hosted on the prestigious Red Theatre stage. A delight for tourists and Kung Fu lovers alike, this show will leave a lasting impression on anyone lucky enough to see it.

A group of Kung Fu masters, with the average age of 17, are collected together to show off skills they have been practicing for many years. Top class directors transform these skills into a spectacular performance. The artists concentrate on a fusion of Kung Fu, modern dance and acrobatics, creating a unique style of drama.

Although the performers do not speak, there are subtitles in English on an electronic screen above the stage, so the audience can follow the storyline. The story is about a boy who dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master and achieving enlightenment. His journey involves overcoming many obstacles from the outside world, and from within his own mind, to overcome his fears and achieve his dream.

The Legend of Kung Fu Show

Kung Fu is an ancient Chinese art, beginning around 4000 years ago. Originally created for self-defense, hunting and military training, the purpose shifted to health maintenance and then to self-cultivation. China has one of the world’s longest continuous records of the use of martial arts. The movements mimic animals, are inspired by ancient myths and legends, and focus on internal and external development.

A complete Kung Fu training teaches Chinese attitudes and culture, philosophy and ethics, medical practices and the use of weaponry. A common phrase used in Kung Fu training is: train both Internal (the heart, spirit, mind, breath and strength) and External (eyes, hands, body and stances.) The Red Theatre crew has taken great dedication and care to showcase the very essence of this spirit to please even the most strict fans of the ancient martial art.

It is also important to give much appraisal to the strict organic diet that is being followed by the performers of the show. According to the director, only by going back to the very roots of food culture in China are they able to produce a theater production that is satisfactory in every respect. Being known around the world, it is a great responsibility on behalf of the Chinese people to introduce the magical art of Kung Fu to foreigners from every corner of the globe.

The Story Toddlers Love

The first act shows the little monk, named Chun Yi meaning ‘Pure One’, becoming initiated. He struggles to concentrate at first, allowing his adventurous spirit to explore his new surroundings. He brings himself under control after watching masters at work, and can now be initiated. The story then moves through how he learns the art of Zen, Kung Fu, and casting iron swords.

He encounters the tests of his inner mind, as he chases a beautiful fairy, a desire of his body and mind. He loses his way from Buddhism and is remorseful, punishing himself before finally finding his way back to the path. The last scene shows the ritual of passing through the temple gate, the final test to demonstrate his skills, and the epilogue of the play shows his glorious enlightenment.

The story is sewn together through stunning martial arts, exquisite ballet, and beautiful music. The theatre itself is an impressive two-tiered auditorium, with state of the art set, costumes and lighting technology to give excellent visual effects.

The Legend of Kung Fu first came to the stage in July 2004, and has since received international acclaim, receiving many awards. A Beijing delight, not to be missed! After the show, it is possible to meet the artists and get photos taken with them. The DinDins Food crew now has a picture memory of a lifetime, with all of the performers and it is know on display in our offices. Friends, please come and see it in New York!

The show is performed every night between 7.30 and 8.50, at Beijing Red Theatre, in the Dongcheng District. Don’t miss it.

Regards and see you next time!

Lissie Flowers, DinDins Food.

Travel in Xian for Food Beyond Organics

Call me food savvy or anything you like, I am someone who is addicted to nost just food but all the culture the surrounds it. Whenever I pick a new travel destination, I check out what can I get on my plate. It’s especially exciting when you are researching this kind of stuff because you cannot know at all what to expect. Of course after many years of travelling, you start to guess a little bit and one of those guesses include the ultimate understanding that all culinary travel destinations are unknown. This exploration of the unknown gives me goose bumps all over and make me want to explore every corner of the world. Especially those countries are on my list, where food culture is deep and profound. Just like in China, how a lot of the concepts that creates todays “healthy food”, have been in use for centuries without ever having the need to put a name for them. And that includes organic food of course.

This time when I was planning a trip to China, it made me especially exited because I found a combination of a magical show together with traditional Chinese food. As many of you may know, I love theatre and what could be better than a combined dinner. I’ve been hearing rumours of a certain “Show Xian” company that is about to release the menu of the Tang Dynasty Show soon on their website. I have been in contact and the administrator made a very kind reply where he explained that everything will be up as soon as possible. Their website seems to be under construction and has been for quite a while. That’s why I have been picking bits and pieces from various websites to understand more the dinner that is being presented here. And besides that, I even heard that it’s toddler friendly which made me even more curious. Of course a lot of people have quite negative thoughts when they think about the combination of food safety issues amongst China. Especially when they are related to their children or kids that are on a sensitive time in life. That is in a digestive way of thinking of course!

So anyway, this Tang Dynasty Show is a traditional opera kind of thing. Except it’s far from anything we’ve seen in Beijing or Shanghai. Instead, it celebrates traditional costumes, musical instruments and magnificent dance. The city of Xian used to be the old capital of China so no wonder it holds such ancient and traditional treasures of the performing arts. As for the dinner that is accompanied throughout the show, you have several options. With my bad Chinese language skills it’s not easy to make out the details and I wish there was a way to have all this information in English too. For that I am waiting for your my dear friends at Show Xian!

Available meals include: Dumpling Banquet – with many different variations of dumplings that are create like art with different forms of animals, or anything you cannot imagine. Royal Banquet – this banquet is made by renowned chefs that are experts in the modern style of so called ‘Xian style’ which I am about to witness when I actually get there. Then there are things such as the Emperor’s Banquet and Luxury Royal Banquet which I am not quite sure what they are offering. But should be the best this ancient city has to offer. Either way, what I love about these dinner shows that even if one is a little bit dissapointing, the combination crowns the day.

Can wait to travel to the land beyond Organics, Xi’an, China. See you there!

Lissie Flowers

Another Toddler Shopping Heaven: Rakuten Japan

As someone who is interested in pretty much all parts of the commercial world, as well as travel. My recent encounter has been with the Japanese store “楽天” (more about the name later). By understanding their operations not only in the organic food industry, but with toddler goods as well as any other interesting products, I am able to analyze the commercial world in a better way. Looking for business solutions that can benefit the world as a whole. This is my study to the world of online commerce in the land of the rising sun. So do read on to get to know more!

Rakuten, Inc. is a Japanese internet and e-commerce company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. The word ‘rakuten’ means optimism in Japanese. Rakuten Ichiba is its business-to-business-to-consumer e-commerce subsidiary. It is the biggest e-commerce company in Japan and one of the biggest in the world in terms of sales.

Rakuten Japan Kids Teddy Shop

The Rakuten Group is made up of nearly 40 services and businesses, including online retail; media and portal; credit, banking, and payments; securities and brokerage; travel; entertainment; and professional sports management.

The local website is originally available only in Japanese, but due to their global expansion English language support has increased. While Rakuten Japan is currently redirecting it’s international customer base to their global version of the website, there are ways to access parts of the native Japanese e-commerce store in English. See the attached link for more informative guidance.

History of Rakuten, Inc.

Founded as MDM, Inc., in 1997 Feb, by Hiroshi Mikitani. He remains as the chief executive to this day. The name of the company was changed in June 1999.

The total revenues of the company in 2012 was $4.6 billion, with around $244 million as operating profits. As of May 2015, the company reported sales of $5.66 billion and had a market cap of $24.7 billion. As of June 2013, the total number of worldwide employees at the company was 10,351.

The company started its overseas expansion operations in 2005, primarily via joint ventures and acquisitions. Some of its major acquisitions include in the US which is now the shopping site; in the UK; Ikeda, currently Rakuten, in Brazil; Spain’s; Priceminister in France; Kobo Inc. in Canada; and Tradoria which is now called Rakuten Deutschland.

Rakuten Ichiba

Rakuten Ichiba or “Shopping Mall”, began operations in May 1995. It started as a company that offered virtual space for brick and mortar sellers to set up virtual shops at their website and sell their products online. The company does not provide warehousing. Initially, they did not sell any products on the site, but later started stocking its own goods and delivering it directly to customers. It also has its own e-bay like auction service, which is the third biggest in Japan.

Products and items worth anywhere between $1 and $100,000 are available for purchase at the “Ichiba” store. Customers can buy Gucci handbags, 4-ton trucks, and digital content, as well as fruits directly sold by local farmers. It can thus be categorized as a site that incorporates many e-commerce business models.

As per the 2010 annual report of the group, Rakuten Ichiba had nearly 40,000 merchants who offered over 95 million different products; over 75 million Japanese users; and nearly 9 million customers who used credit cards. Expansion of the company resulted in international shipments of products. By the end of 2013, e-tailers from the US could directly sell on the online marketplace without having a local Japanese bank account, address, or entity.

Our personal favorite has been the abundance of the worlds cutest kids and children’s clothing available. For example the “Teddy Shop” has become a very popular collection of such items.

How does Rakuten Ichiba make money?

Rakuten charges a fixed fee from the merchants who set up their virtual shops on the site. This fee is charged up front which assists the company in maintaining a positive flow of cash. The company also charges commission payments, i.e., a small percentage of the sales revenue, from each merchant/e-tailer. The commission is known to vary depending on the type of items being sold, for example toddler goods or organic food products. Other sources of revenue include lead generation, display of advertisements, and third-party promotion campaigns, etc.

In addition to the virtual space, the website also offers additional services such as a merchant-only monthly magazines, real-world seminars, and phone support, etc. Members can avail of the ‘Super Points’ reward program. Foreign services of the e-commerce giant, like US-based, etc., monetize in a different manner.

Western Han Dynasty Acrobatics & Diet at Chaoyang Theatre Show

We’ve been talking a lot about organic food, but what if we would go back to the new and exiting topic of China for a while. Our discovery of the acrobatic diet, was something that confirmed our believes of expanding nutrition beyond organics. Especially when it comes to our toddlers and children, whatever is USDA organic or basically any other major company founded certificate is simply just not enough. By applying rules, you always find people who bend them or try to act as badly as possibly within those limits. No set of regulations can be vigorous enough to keep food safety intact. That is just the simply fact that we have to face in todays decisions about food. But as was in the case of acrobatics at the Tiandi Theatre, the simple need for a certain kind of performance or skill to act out an acrobatic show was enough motive to create an optimal dietary environment. It was not about rules, and regulations. Instead, it was about genuine need for a certain quality and style of food that would make us better at something.

When all this comes together with a delicious meal, life is simply beautiful. To celebrate our discovery in Beijing we decided to visit another hugely famous acrobat venue, performed by the Beijing Acrobatic Troupe. Unlike Tiandi, this is a massive venue with huge production costs. We wanted to observe the people performing there, and find out if this was really a trend within all the acrobatics shows in China. So we turned ourselves to enjoy mode, and went to observe the great spectacle at the Chaoyang Theatre Acrobatic Microcosmic stage. And we were absolutely thrilled, as it was really a huge and impressive show with skill to perform only that which exited us in tremendous ways. And if you think I sound exited after going there and writing this, think again.. during and soon after the spectacle, I have been filled with so much exitement that it’s difficult to hold without bursting.

So what happens at the theatre in Chaoyang? Well, all in all it’s a show that bends not just the human physique but also the mind as well. With about dozen acts that teach you the limits of the human body. With death defying acts, to more relaxed yet extremely skilful balancing tricks. For example, the one where a twenty or so men balance on top of each other, while throwing hundreds of hats is pretty puzzling. How do they do it? Well, with a lot of training and a healthy diet of course. You could see that not just the performance was polished, so was their appearance. One cannot really fake such a healthy and good looking apearance. These troupe members were truly being taken care of, and a good look at their faces was like a story that told everything about it!

So here the line was not blurry, because the training goes deep into the culture and tradition of Chinese variety art. So for example, in the old times when they performed to the emperors.. it was an honourful potition with huge rewards. It was like being a celebrity in the ancient China, with all the healthy and tasty food you could every imagine available. That is of course, if you managed to perform so that the emperor was pleased. With the pressure high to perform, so is the act!

This was not just some walk on tiptoes, but a warp to the Western Han Dynasty. Where such choreopgraphic skill was already perfected, now taken to the great production level at the Chaoyang Theatre in Beijing. To find out more, we highly recommend checking out the “Beijing Acrobatic Show” trailer, which should give you just enough of a hint to know what to look forward to. That is if you will visit Beijing, one of our favorite culinary cities. Loaded with performing arts theaters and organic restaurants. Everything under one big mingling cityscape. Which would be nothing without the fantastic acrobatics provided.

We will now take example and enjoy some of the delicious dumplings, that will provide our “acrobatic diet”, for us. See you next time, perhaps about something more from China coming later. But as always, we will keep educating you about the realities of organic food, toddlers and eating habbits throughout the world! Thank you.

Lissie Flowers

Food for Mind: Childish Learning of Chinese

Having children is a moment of personal growth for everyone. For many it’s something even unexpected and arises out of necessity. While that is all fine as nature has intended, there is big difference in truly embracing the experience and to do it purely out of the necessity. Adults have a lot of non-productive habbits, especially when it comes to learning new things. The mind is already crowded with so much information, when new things are best learned with a blank mind. Such is the mind of a child and it’s beautiful how they have the ability to absorb languages like a sponge.

Chinese Kids Classroom

The big misunderstanding is that this is a power that only children posess. When in fact, children have come to this world to remind us of the unlimited capabilities we all have. With languages this comes out very strongly. Instead of adults being motivated by the skills of their own siblings, it builds a gap between knowledge. This is nothing more than the refusal of accepting new information in a new way. That is why kids can give us a second change, to start learning all those languages we always have wanted to.

My findings are very much connected to ideas that sparked from our many travels to China. In the attempt to learn Chinese, I have been fortunate enough to find the Michel Thomas Foundation. When looking for efficient ways to learn languages, language is like food for the mind. Children who are less extroverted can take longer to learn to speak. This is because it’s all about putting what you have learned to use and go trough constant trial and error. While understanding that one needs to get rid of their inhibitions and become more in tune with the natural world around them… as adults, it’s not as simple as flipping a switch. That’s why we need a good teacher. A good teacher will know how to learn Chinese fast by themselves and transmit this knowledge to the pupil in a skilled, thoughtfull manner.

Learning together with Michel is just something beautiful and it takes you back to your childhood. But lately with the absence of such good teachers that understand these vital, and “childish” language learning methods are few. Which is why searching around the internet for how to learn mandarin will yield in so many independent ways. These are great, but even more great is when you can combine self taught methods with a solid language foundation that has been simply given to you without any homework or memorizing. This is the most natural and the most fast way to learn Chinese or any other language, to simply understand it and put it to use immediately.

It’s like child first learns how to ride a bicycle. It’s that very first “a-ha!” moment when the child has understood how to ride it. After that the process of mastering the skill is only a matter of putting it into use. Us adults in many situations, not just when it comes to mandarin, skip this important first step and go directly to supposedly trying to practice the language. And even during practiced we are not really open and passionate about just going out there and trying that newly learned skill. It’s because we are not excited enough and feel such tasks are difficult or bothersome. This is the kind of attitude that stops us from doing such amazing new things, that could give us a whole new view into socializing with local people in a foreign country such as China.

Hope my words help to encourage, because we need to wake up and become children again!

Lissie Flowers,
DinDins Food.

Organic Junk Food is Still Junk Food!

This main issue arises with organic junk food. We’re talking oreos made from organic flour, organic fizzy drinks and organic ice cream. There are organic chips, organic crisps, organic pastries, cookies and muffins. Organic is not a magic health wizard that casts a spell on nutritionally barren snacks and makes them equal to a piece of fruit. Sorry to burst that bubble.

Organic junk food is still junk food.

Now, this doesn’t mean that they can’t have a place in your diet. What it does mean is that you’re wallet and health will be better off from buying a slice of cake from your local bakery opposed to downing an entire cake made from organic ingredients from Whole Foods in the belief that it’s healthy.

One thing that really annoys me are the organic smoothies and drinks. These are the type you see on the shelf with large labels saying “no added sugar” and “vitamin rich”. Vitamin Water in the US has more sugar than snickers bar. Now, I’m not saying that they are nutritionally compatible, but the vitamin water may not be as good for you as you think. Stick a squirt of lemon, orange or lime in a water bottle instead to spruce up your H20.

This Water has 21.3g sugar while Innocent superfood smoothie has 31g sugar. Pret-A-Manger orange juice has 51g sugar in it per bottle! All these drinks are sold as healthy alternatives to fizzy drinks but many have hidden ingredients to improve the taste.

A lot of organic flavoured yogurts are the same. People will buy them for the organic label without realising all the added ingredients they stick in for the taste. Soup, too. You may not think that soup would have anything other than vegetables in it but you’d be surprised what companies get away with when they stick an organic label on top. They can charge a much higher price and people are also more likely to buy them because they think they’re “healthier” (healthy is subjective, there is no factual definition for something being healthier.)

Sugar is not the enemy at all but what the aim of this article is to get you to be a bit more skeptical about so called “healthy-options.” If you dig a little deeper, a lot of them are just really good branding.

What would be better for your health is maintaining a balanced diet consisting of moderate amounts of food from a wide range of sources. Try and include a fist full size of fruit or vegetables with every meal alongside a protein source. That’ll keep you full, healthy and happy. Then, when you’re in the mood for a bit of a treat, have it knowing that you’ve been good the rest of the week. “Unhealthy” food is good for your mental health too, don’t forget that. You can’t be healthy if you’re obsessing over the nutritional content of every meal and restricting yourself.

Organic may mean that it’s lower in pesticides and antioxidants but that’s not the only thing that matters, so do the nutritional labels. You have to also ask yourself whether foods lower in pesticides are actually better for you and the research shows otherwise. Research at Stanford University looked at more than 200 studies of the content and associated health gains of organic and non-organic foods. Overall, there was no large difference between the nutritional content, although the organic food was 30% less likely to contain pesticides.

There may be slightly less risks of getting diseases or illnesses but the research is inconclusive. What we do know that works, however, is eating nutritionally dense foods such as fish, unprocessed meats, fruit and vegetables in the first place.

There’s no need to spend twice the price on organically produced crisps and cookies when the conventional alternative will be 99% the same. Some people think that organic produce taste better but some people also drink their own urine. Does that mean we all should?

I for one am going to continue drinking my free-range, gluten-free and low-fat dihydrogen monoxide a.k.a. water.

Lissie Flowers

What is Organic Seafood: Are There Benefits

You cannot get organic seafood in the US as the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has no registered products pertaining to this. The soil association in the UK does list certain fish as being organic as long as they abide by these guidelines

  • they are produced using the most sustainable feeds available – salmon and trout feeds are made from the recycled processing wastes of fish which have already been caught for human consumption
  • the fish are kept at low stocking densities which minimises stress and maximises welfare and natural disease resistance only natural pigments are used in the feeds
  • the fat content of feeds is limited. This produces more natural growth rates and produce a firm and delicious fillet
  • toxic antifoulants (used to keep net pens clean) are not permitted on organic fish farms
  • the use of veterinary treatments is heavily restricted and long withdrawal periods (the time between the animal being treated and harvested) are required should treatments be essential to maintain high welfare standards.

The only thing really relating to pesticides or chemicals there is toxic atifoulants which is actually used for cleaning, not as feed.

So, as you can see, Organic food does not mean that it is fat-free, sugar-free or have any relation to the macronutrient or caloric composition of the food. The USDA does not claim that organically produced food is safer or more nutritious than traditionally produced foods. “Organic” simply means that the crop is grown in pesticide free soil or eats pesticide free food. One thing that is for sure is that organic food costs a lot more. A lot more.

Studies have been debating for years over whether the benefits are worth the cost. While some results have shown that organic food does have lower pesticides and higher antioxidants, the differences were fairly minuscule and probably not worth twice the price that you’re paying for it.

Lissie Flowers

What is Organic Food: The Blurry Line of Organics

The organic industry is estimated to be worth over £40 ($63) billion worldwide but what does organic mean to you?

Does it mean the food is healthier? Leaner? Sugar-free? Unprocessed?

The official definition of “organic” is

“Noting or pertaining to a class of chemical compounds that formerly comprised only those existing in or derived from plants or animals, but that now includes all other compounds of carbon.”

Great. I bet that’s really helped you out.

According to Precision Nutrition, to earn the label of “organic” in the U.S., farmers must:
• maintain records concerning the production and handling of agricultural products
• submit to audits conducted by accredited certifying agents
• use organic seeds when available
• feed animals with organic feed for at least 1 year
• give animals access to the outdoors
• feed and build soil matter with natural fertilizer
• use insect predators, mating disruption, traps and barriers to protect crops from pests and disease

Farmers must NOT:
• treat animals with antibiotics, growth hormones, or feed made from animal byproducts
• apply prohibited substances to their land for at least three years prior to harvest
• use irradiation or genetic engineering
• fertilise with sewage sludge

Contrary to popular belief, organic does NOT mean free-range or have many links to animal welfare, although the UK soil association does hold welfare in high regard. Organic is to do with how the animals are fed but they can still be caged and kept indoors, especially in the U.S.

Also, organic farming does not mean that they do not use pesticides. It means that the pesticides that they do use are “natural” instead of synthetic. A pesticide is a chemical aimed at killing insects or warding off any harm that may come to the crops. Unfortunately, these “natural” chemicals that they use aren’t as effective so to compensate the farmers end up using more. Yep. Organic food most likely has more pesticides sprayed on it than conventionally grown foods.

“Natural” pesticides actually have less research on them in regards to the effects on humans. Synthetic pesticides have much more regulation and are far more studied. “Organic pesticides that are studied have been found to be as toxic as synthetic pesticides,” Steven Novella, president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society, has said.

The reason that I keep putting natural in quotation marks is that I’m not sure anyone really knows what natural means. The line is a bit blurry on what’s natural and what isn’t.

Labels that state that the product is “100% organic” mean that the product is using 100% organic ingredients, as you would expect. However, most foods are simply labeled “organic” which means 95% of the ingredients must be organic. This is shown on a lot of chocolate bars where the cocoa is organic but the emulsifier, normally sunflower or soy lecithin, is not.