Pros and Cons of Organic Food

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pros and cons of organic food

It is not hard to find the label “organic” on anything these days. If you stroll through the aisles of your local supermarket, it could pop up on anything from apples to makeup to energy drinks and candy. Organic foods have been on a steady growth for almost 20 years now and continue to bring in more and more revenue every year. People do not mind paying the extra money if they think they are avoiding putting dangerous pesticides and growth hormones into their bodies.  Are organic products more wholesome, though? What are some of the pros and cons of eating organic foods? We will take a quick look at the history of organics to better understand what makes an organic food product so that we can compare the pros and cons of organic food shopping for you and your family.

All you need do is hop on the USDA’s website to see a history of organic food farming. During the time of WW2, production all around the world was working overtime to keep up with the demand for supplies. Farms were no different. Many “industrial farms” were searching for new ways to increase productivity to keep up with the food shortages that were occurring on and off the battlefield.

Many farmers began turning to synthetic fertilizers to increase their harvest. Sure, these synthetic fertilizers worked, but many farmers recognized them as health concerns. These skeptical men and women opted to look for other natural strategies that could increase yield without putting their family’s health at risk. They began to be referred to as “organic farmers”.  These organic farmers’ claims that synthetic pesticides and fertilizers were detrimental to health were not pulled out of thin air. You can also read about the disadvantages of genetically modified food here.

Around 1938 during a dust bowl on the great plains, the dry topsoil was blown off farming land by the wind and it left many farmers in the area destitute because of the pesticides that were trapped in the dirt. Fast forward to the end of WW2, in 1945 and we see a huge pro-organic figure, J.I. Rodale, published an article warning about the dangers of DDT. America was distracted by the war and then the great depression at the time, but these events laid the groundwork for future generations to take a stand against industrial farming.

Fast forward a number of years and organic food started becoming more popular in the 90’s especially. Foods brought in from China were notorious at this point for being contaminated and local farmers could advertise organic food that was clean and cheaper. Soon after the USDA released a regulation on organic foods in 2002.

They define organic agriculture as “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.”. Organic foods just so happened to fit nicely into our current culture with the health craze that started in the early 2000’s and continues to this very day.

Organic Peaches
Organic Peaches

Now that we know a brief history of organic food farming let’s look at what organic food is. Organic farming has the following characteristics according to organic agriculture’s sustainable table :


  • Are grown or raised by a producer who uses practices in balance with the natural environment, using methods and materials that minimize the negative impact on the environment. The organic farmer is committed to replicating the ecology of the natural environment by maintaining biodiversity and fostering healthy soil and growing conditions.


  • Are produced on land that has been free of known and perceived toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers for at least three years prior to certification, and synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are not used in production.


  • Are planted on a rotating basis within the farm system. Crops are rotated from field to field, rather than growing the same crop in the same place year after year. Cover crops such as clover are planted to add nutrients to the soil and prevent weeds.

Organic meat, poultry and egg products come from farms that use organic feed, do not administer added hormones to promote growth or any antibiotics and they allow animals the space and freedom to behave naturally.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Of course, it does. The USDA’s regulation also states that if a product has the USDA Organic seal on it then the farm has been inspected and the product contains at least 95% organic ingredients.

Let’s get to the point here, though. What are the pros and cons of organic foods in our modern time? Are they worth buying and is their consumption beneficial to health? There are several points we need to observe in order to answer this question.

Pros and Cons of Organic Food


Looking at the cost analysis from Business Insider shows that simple fruits and vegetable food items will cost you about $10 to $25 more every year. While meats could cost you over $100 more every year. Eggs are in a league of their own if you opt for the organic, pasture-raised eggs it will come to an extra $300 more every year. When you get into peanut butter, it will be about $130 more per year while almond butter (already a pricey item) will cost you about $365 more for the organic version.



There was a huge test done by the consumer’s union on organic and non-organic foods. The study showed the organic foods consistently have one-third fewer pesticide residues on them than non-organic foods. While non-organic foods have well below dangerous levels, the concern is how those pesticide residues add up in our bodies over the years. That is something only time will tell. One interesting fact is the natural toxins and pesticides that organic un-altered plants create. A potato, for example, cannot easily get up and run away if it is attacked so as it turns green, it produces its own version of pesticide called solanine. Ingesting too much of this can make a person violently ill. Organic foods contain more natural toxins than non-organic crops. An easy way to combat these toxins, in both organic and non-organic foods, is to simply wash them before consumption or preparation. Most food poisonings come from unsafe handling of foods after they leave the farm.



Many studies have done on whether organic food bears more nutritional value than other food items. The fact of the matter is, it is inconclusive. Some studies have shown that organic foods hold more vitamin C, anti-oxidants and minerals, but the margin is so low that it holds little benefit for us. If you want more nutritional content from your food an easy way to do it is to eat your food fresh! Even organic foods, if left in the fridge for too long, lose some of their nutritional impacts.


Environmental Impact

This is where organic foods pull a big one over on non-organic items. Synthetic pesticides and some fertilizers do not easily break down. They build up in our soil, water and bodies. The only way to fight back against this pollution that causes both short and long-term illnesses to include migraines, cardiovascular diseases and cancer in humans, plants and animals is to eliminate the use of it. It is no secret to anyone that these chemicals are harmful to the planet, yet they continue to be used. Organic farming is better for the environment. They are required to allow pasture for their livestock, they rotate crops to allow natural replenishment of soil nutrients and they do not use synthetic fertilizers and pesticides which are known to damage the ecosystem on their crops. All of these points add up to a farm that works in conjunction with the environment instead of against it.

So, let’s add up the points on the pros and cons of organic food:

When we look at the costs, it is clear who wins. Non-organic farms and organic farms cost about the same to run, yet organic food can cost over 75% more in the stores. Organic food is still seen in many areas as a fad, and business owners want to make a few bucks off this trend before it goes out the window. As organic food becomes more popular though, we see that price is steadily leveling out as well. It is only a matter of time until organic food prices drop to normal levels. Currently, however, non-organic food gets the win in price.

In safety, I would have to give the win to organic foods. Organic foods avoid synthetic toxins that are known to build up instead of breakdown and can cause cancers and other illnesses. While it is true that organic foods produce their own toxins, and natural fertilizers can hold dangerous bacteria such as E.coli, these are natural poisons that can be avoided with proper care and, not to mention, are natural bacteria and toxins that have been around for millennia. Take care to wash your food and only eat ripe foods fresh and you will not need to worry about food poisoning from organic food items.

Next, we look at nutrition. This is a tie between non-organic and organic foods. Multiple studies have shown that on a nutritional level they are at an impasse.

Finally, the environmental impact is a landslide victory for organic foods. Industrial farms are one of the leading causes of pollution in our world today. The only way to fight back is to stop supporting them by not buying their products.

In the end, it is up to the consumer consider the pros and cons of organic food and to think if organic foods are worth the price or not. If the trend continues as it is, we will see organic foods continue to take over the market. Read up on how to eat better here.



History of Organic Culture, (accessed August 12, 2018).

Sustainable Table — Organic Agriculture, (accessed August 12, 2018).

I compared the price of organic and regular items at Whole Foods — here’s what I found, (accessed August 12, 2018).

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