Page Description: Due to increasing health issues, people are getting more concerned about what they consume. Hence, the need for clarity on the different labels found on foods in grocery stores. Farm produce such as grains, fruit and vegetables, dairy produce, meat, fish, and tubers are either labeled ‘organic’ or ‘non-GMO’. Most people get stuck when deciding between organic and non-GMO products. In this article, we explained organic and non-GMO products and which is the right choice for your health.
What is organic?
Organic is anything grown or produced without the use of synthetic substances. The term organic is often used in the Agricultural industry to refer to farm produce such as crops, dairy products, meat, and fish cultivated or bred, processed, packaged, and stored without using any artificial substance.
Some people refer to organic as ‘natural’ which is tricky because a product can be grown or produced naturally and still not be organic. Any crop grown on an open field is natural. A crop grown naturally becomes organic if no chemical substances have been used on the soil before or in a long time, and in the process of growing, preserving, packaging, and storing the produce.
What is Non-GMO?
Non-GMO is the short form for non-genetically modified organisms. Genetically modified organisms are products and organisms created in the laboratory with alterations to their genetic makeup or structure. Hence, non-GMO refers to all products that have never been genetically modified, or grown in the lab.
GMOs are created to enhance food availability, tolerance for herbicides and pesticides, and resistance to infestation, virus attacks, and weeds. Although the reasons for creating GMOs are understandable, their side effects are harmful to human health. Hence, non-GMO products are recommended over GMO products.
Non-GMO vs organic
There’s a lot of confusion going on about non-GMO vs organic which is understandable because they are both similar. However, there’s a clear difference between them.
Organic products are grown and bred naturally without using synthetic substances such as herbicides, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, feeds, hormones, and antibiotics. While non-GMO products are grown and bred naturally with or without synthetic substances, and without modification to their genetic makeup.
All organic products are non-GMO, but not all non-GMO are organic. This is because organic products are grown naturally without modification of their genetic structure, while non-GMOs can be grown organically or using synthetic materials.
Certified Organic foods
Certified organic foods are those foods in grocery stores labeled ‘organic’. They are labeled organic because they’ve been certified by the U.S Department of Agriculture, USDA. Before a product is certified organic, it must meet the growth, processing, packaging, and storage requirement of the USDA.
Certified organic foods might not be 100% organic, but they must be up to 70% organic produce and 30% nonharmful synthetic substance. Large production of 100% organic produce is very challenging because the resources used in growing them are difficult to get. Plus, they have a very short life span. Hence, USDA had to come up with the quota and effective implementation strategies to help promote large-scale food production while still protecting human health.
Producers of organic crops are monitored by legal bodies to ensure that their crops and farm produce are protected from any form of contact, whether direct or indirect contact with genetically modified organisms. The National Organic Program works together with the USDA to consistently regulate the implementation of regulations guiding the production of organic produce and ensure the standard for human health and safety are met.
Every production stage, from cultivation and breeding to processing, packaging, and preservation, is tested to ensure that strategies are in place to prevent accidental contact with synthetic chemicals and genetically modified.
Besides the production cycle of organic products, farmlands are also inspected. Before organic food producers receive organic certification to start farming on the lands, the legal bodies in charge test the lands to ensure it is free from contamination with GMOs and synthetic substances. Since the legal bodies can’t be too sure about the land, it takes at least 3 to 7 years of farming with intense monitoring before a farm is certified organic.
Certified non-GMO foods
Certified non-GMO foods are foods in grocery stores labeled ‘non-GMO’. foods are labeled non-GMO because they have been verified to meet the standard of the non-GMO Project Product Verification Program. Before a product is verified non-GMO, it must be tested to ensure that it meets the requirements of the program.
The non-GMO Project Product Verification Program is the body in charge of creating regulations for verifying non-GMO products. Then, the inspectors, independent technical administrators, and certified testing laboratories work to ensure that guidelines are implemented. The latter bodies are part of the non-GMO Project Product Verification Program. Hence, they are qualified to evaluate the farming, processing, packaging, and preservation of non-GMO produce.
Besides the evaluation of the farming cycle, these bodies inspect farmlands to ensure that they meet the stipulated requirement before they are verified. Like the case of certified organic farm produce, they give a required period in which the land and its produce are supposed to run before it becomes verified.
The non-GMO Project Product Verification Program also inspects nonharmful GMOs such as vitamins, and microorganisms used in food production. the inspection is to make sure they meet the requirements of the program. The organisms are usually submitted at least every 3 years for assessment to make sure they still meet the stipulated regulations.
If you must consume non-GMO foods, ensure that they are labeled certified, to avoid consuming GMO products. Eating GMO food products is detrimental to human health and the environment. They might be toxic to the body and when you eat them, they end up causing problems in your body system instead of digestion. And when they are finally out of your body or on the shelf, they don’t decay but expose the environment to impending environmental issues.
To help you identify non-GMO products, products that are non-eligible for non-GMO verification include:
- 100% salt goods for human and pet consumption tagged as a non-risk category
- foods certified as bioengineered by the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard.
Currently, the number of foods approved for genetic modification in the United States is few. They include apples, pawpaw, corn, potatoes, sugar beets, soybeans, and squash. So, when next you go grocery shopping for any of these foods, ensure that you check the labeling for either non-GMO labels— which is safer than GMO — or organic labels.
Which should I choose?
When it comes to choosing between organic and non-GMO foods, most certified dieticians and nutritionists recommend organic foods. With organic foods, you can be sure of eating healthy foods that are not detrimental to your health.
Also eating organic food shows your contribution to building a sustainable environment. It’ll help reduce exposure to harmful substances like pesticides and help to reduce the rate at which people develop issues.
Why Choose Organic foods?
Most organic foods are fresh foods that don’t stay long on the shelf. So, you are sure that they still retain their nutrients which will give your body what it needs to function actively. They are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids that boost mental health, aid weight loss, and reduce the rate of developing diseases such as stroke, high blood pressure, blood fats, liver fats, insulin resistance, and other heart diseases.
Since it is prohibited to use chemicals in growing, processing, packaging, and storing, eating organic food prevents us from consuming chemicals that are harmful to our health, and puts us at risk of developing health issues. Organic foods are also free of genetic modification which we are not sure of its impact on our health, making it a safer choice for us.
Organic food rich in carbohydrates helps to reduce fat in the heart and prevents cholesterols in the blood from clogging in arteries. Organic products also supply vitamins, fibers, and energy, to the body. They also help to improve blood circulation and the flow of nutrients to the heart, brain, muscles, and other body parts.
Organic foods contain zero chemicals and lesser toxins which boosts our immune system. Whenever you eat organic foods, the energy that would have been used to protect the body and fight off heavy chemicals and toxins is focused on fighting antibodies, thereby strengthening the immune system.
The antioxidants in fresh foods help to fight and prevent free radicals from destroying the muscle cells. They also help to promote healing, prevent oxidative stress, and boost the body’s physical strength.
Organic foods are expensive and are not readily available, but they are the best of the two options and are worth the price. Since the availability of organic foods is limited, you can decide to grow them yourself or from markets where they sell fresh organic farm produce.
Also, we cannot ignore the benefits that come with eating fresh foods. It adds nutrients to our body, enhances the function of body parts, promotes weight loss, and prevents the development of diseases. If you are working on living a healthy lifestyle, eating fresh food should be part of your goals.