Kirill Yurovskiy: how to distinguish organic from non-organic products

The fashion for everything natural has recently gained momentum, so it is not surprising that so many people prefer organic products. In this article Kirill Yurovskiy will tell you how organic products differ from conventional ones, where you can buy them and whether they are of any benefit.

What are organic products

Organic products (or bioproducts, eco products) – agricultural products, the cultivation and production of which does not use chemicals: pesticides, growth regulators, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics. In addition, organic products do not contain GMOs.

Plants on organic farms are fertilized exclusively with natural products: manure, compost, charcoal. Such a farm produces a smaller crop, it often spoils and can look worse than the products grown on the production.

Animals and poultry on organic farms live free-range or kept in spacious aviaries, not in cramped pens. Cattle eat natural forage, without receiving additional synthetic feed.

Production of organic products is aimed not only at healthy nutrition – farmers care about the state of the soil, water and the ecosystem as a whole.

How are organic products different from conventional

As a rule, the nutritional value and content of useful substances organic products do not differ from conventional, but there is a difference between them.

  • Fewer harmful substances

No pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used in the production of organic products, so they contain fewer harmful substances, such as heavy metals. However, even in conventional products, the content of these substances does not exceed permissible standards.

  • No hormones or antibiotics

Hormones and antibiotics are often used in industrial agriculture: with them, animals grow faster and get sick less, which benefits the producer. However, for the end consumer, such products are a time bomb that can be detrimental to health. Scientists believe that antibiotics can persist in meat and enter the human body. If the body is exposed to antibiotics for a long time, the bacteria become immune to them, and at the right time, antibiotics will not help.

  • No GMOs

Organic producers refuse to produce genetically modified organisms, although GMO harm has not been proven, so this can hardly be considered a plus.

  • Higher price

Organic products are often much more expensive than conventional products, and this is not always due to the wave of popularity to all things natural. There are also quite simple reasons.

Because organic farms don’t use chemicals, there is a higher risk of crop failure: plants may not yield, cows may give less milk, or die of disease. On meat farms it is more expensive for organic feed and a larger area of grazing. All these risks and costs the producer has to invest in products. On average, organic products are 30-50% more expensive than conventional products.

What are the benefits of organic products

There is an opinion that naturally grown fruits and vegetables are much healthier than the bright “plastic” fruits. But is this true? Scientists don’t yet have a consensus on whether organic products are healthier. Some studies show that eating organic foods reduces the risk of obesity and cancer, and reduces the likelihood of developing fetal defects during pregnancy. However, scientists caution that these findings require further research.

How to tell the difference between organic products

In the world there is no single standard for the certification of organic products, labeling depends on what market is aimed at marketing.

Here is a list of some of the recognized standards that organic products must meet:

  • For the countries of the European Union, the regulations of EC 834/2007 and EC 889/2008.
  • For the United States – the National Organic Program, USDA ORGANIC.
  • For Japan the Japanese Agricultural Standard.
  • For Germany – Bio-Siegel.
  • For Australia – NASAA Organic Standard.

In Russia, organic products can go through a voluntary certification in the Ecological Union for compliance with international standard ISO 14024, and get the only Russian label “Leaf of Life” approved by the World Ecolabel Association.

Because of the growing trend towards sustainability, the list of organic products often includes “fakes”: many producers resort to greenwashing – a marketing ploy to make the consumer think that he is faced with an organic product, although it is not. Signs of greenwashing can be:

  • labels “bio”, “eco”, “organic”, “non-GMO”;
  • use of non-existent labels: green tree, flower, sun, etc.;
  • the image of leaves, trees, grass on the label;
  • the abundance of green color on the package.

Where to buy organic products

Organic products can also be bought in a regular supermarket, but most often they are sold in specialized organic stores and farmers’ markets.

If it is important for you to buy only organic products, carefully study the label, look for the appropriate labeling and do not hesitate to ask for supporting documents. For the manufacturer, the ecolabel is a source of pride, and they are usually happy to boast about it. If they refuse or answer evasively, it’s cause for reflection.

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