Powerful Benefits of Eating Organic Fruits
What is the difference between fresh fruit and organic fruit? According to the Organic Trade Association, organic fruit is grown without pesticides and artificial fertilizers, and processed without radiation or additives. Organic fruit is also produced without antibiotics, synthetic hormones or genetic engineering. In the United States, organic fruit must bear the USDA Organic seal, which identifies products with at least 95 percent organic ingredients. Organic growers and handlers must be certified by USDA-accredited agencies and organizations. Even small farms, which are exempt from certification with less than $5,000 in annual organic agricultural production, must still maintain the organic integrity of the products they sell to avoid steep fines. Global sales continue to rise by double-digit percentages each year, with worldwide sales approaching $40 billion in U.S. dollars. According to European research firm Organic Monitor, North America is the biggest organic market, followed closely by Western Europe.
Pros and Cons of Organic Fruit
Organic farms do not consume or release pesticides into the environment. These pesticides, regularly used by conventional farmers, can harm soil, water and local terrestrial and aquatic wildlife. We do not yet know the long-term implications of pesticide exposure, but many people simply choose not to take the risk of putting pesticide residue in their bodies. The University of Washington recently published research stating that children who consumed produce grown with conventional farming practices had urine levels of some pesticide types five to seven times higher than children with a 75 percent organic diet. While we’re not sure what the health risks may be, if there are any at all, what we do know is that conventional farming exposes us to pesticides. That is enough for many people to switch to organic foods.
Others switch to organic foods to promote local commerce and agriculture while protecting the environment. Organic farms are better than conventional farms at sustaining diverse ecosystems such as populations of plants, insects and animals. Organic farms use less energy and produce less waste. By supporting the local farms that produce organic fruit, you support local agriculture and commerce.
Organic fruit is required to be free of genetic modification; it is the purest, simplest fruit grown today. If you want to know what it is like to taste the closest thing to fruit as it was enjoyed for centuries, before modernization introduced chemicals and pesticides, go organic. Conventional farms genetically modify some fruits and vegetables to grow larger, mature more quickly, become resistant to spoiling, and improve in taste, but organic farms must avoid these unnatural growing practices.
Quite possibly the only setback to organic fruit is its price. Just like a handmade Ferrari is a more expensive car to purchase than the finest factory-produced Mercedes, organic fruit that is naturally grown can be 10 to 40 percent more expensive than its commercially produced counterpart.
Why is Organic Fruit So Expensive?
With organic fruit, you pay for production. Organic fruit takes more effort to produce—farmers cannot simply douse their farm with pesticides, and they must comply with strict growing regulations—which all add to the fruit’s cost. Conventional farms receive federal subsidies; organic farms do not, so their produce reflects the true cost of growing.
Organic fruit, grown without pesticides, has a shorter shelf life. Conventional produce is treated with chemicals that help it stay fresh longer. Organic fruit does not possess these chemicals, so a higher volume is lost.
The price of organic food, however, is dropping. Major retailers like Wal-Mart and Walgreens are now increasing their organic offerings. It remains to be seen how the presence of these major retailers will affect the market.
Growing Your Own
Growing your own organic fruit only takes a bit more work than a traditional garden. The fruit your organic garden will produce is vastly superior to anything you can purchase in the supermarket, and you’ll grow it for a fraction of the cost of commercial organic fruit. In just a few years, your garden investment will have paid for itself many times over, and in addition to all the fresh fruit your family can eat, you’ll always have a surplus to give neighbors, friends or coworkers.
The first step to growing your own organic fruit is to enrich your soil with organic compost. You can set up your own compost bin by filling it with any organic material you come across, such as fruit cores and vegetable peels, seeds, coffee grounds, grass clippings, leaves, wood chips, or water. You can also purchase organic compost at your home and garden store. Good organic compost is all the fertilizer you will need.
Plant the fruits and vegetables you like in an area of your home that makes sense for each individual plant’s soil and sun needs.
The next piece to keeping your garden organic is the way in which you control pests. Rather than using harmful pesticides, turn instead to nature. Ladybugs feast on aphids, a common pest in vegetable and flower gardens. You can purchase ladybugs at your local nursery or online. You can also encourage other beneficial insects to visit your garden, rather than purchasing them: hover flies, which eat green flies; caterpillars and spider mites. Reedy plants will attract dragonflies, which eat mosquitoes. Building a pond and filling it with aquatic plants will encourage amphibians as well as dragonflies. Frogs eat flies, moths and other flying insects. Marigold, lavender, rosemary, daisies, and cosmos will attract bees, insects that are essential to the pollination process, especially for fruit trees.
Encourage natural biodiversity in your garden. Plant a variety of flowers, fruits and vegetables, and add a birdbath to encourage birds to visit your garden. A healthy garden should be abuzz with bees, butterflies, ladybugs, and other insects. These insects are the original pesticides, eating the pests and helping to pollinate your garden.
Organic Fruit: Worth the Effort?
There is considerable evidence mounting from dozens of studies conducted worldwide that organic fruit contains fewer nitrates and more vitamins and antioxidants than commercially produced food. Their findings can all be seen at the Organic Trade Association’s website, Ota.com.
A study conducted for the Italian National Institute of Food and Nutrition Research found that organic pears contained more vitamin C and antioxidants than its conventionally produced counterpart, and that organic peaches also contained more antioxidants. An 87-page report published in 2001 for The Soil Association of the United Kingdom found that organic crops were higher in vitamin C, essential minerals and phytonutrients. And in the United States, researchers at the University of California at Davis found that organic fruits and vegetables contained significantly higher levels of antioxidants than conventionally-produced fruit.
Many of us choose to eat fresh produce for its health benefits, not necessarily because it is the least expensive product on a grocer’s shelf. The superlative nutritional content of organic fruit continues to be proven by researchers. The value of any fruit, organic or otherwise, is determined by the consumer who purchases it. Ultimately, it is commerce that drives production, success and failure. However, organic fruit does seem to possess more nutrients, despite its inflated price. For many, the cost of purchasing organic produce is far outweighed by its inherent nutritional benefits and local production.
Powerful Benefits of Eating Organic Fruits
Orginally Published by: By Marissa Brassfield