Go Natural!

You always thought of eating healthy food produced through natural farming, but did not know how to go about it. Here's the lead-up to going organic

Fresh fruits and vegetables"Former Bollywood film star, Sridevi, regularly shops for organic food in London's famous Selfridges to stock up her pantry."

"Actors Yana Gupta and Rahul Khanna launch Mumbai's newest organic food store."

"Taj Group of Hotels launches the first fully organic restaurant in the country."

These were some of the "organic" headlines that made news, during the last few months.

When my favourite apparel brand started stocking organic foods in a section of their store, I realised that the revolution had, indeed, caught on.

So, why this current hype about organic food? Supermarkets in the US, and the UK, have been stocking a whole array of organic versions of every food you can think of for a long time. Vegetables, meat, coffee, spices - everything is going organic. The trend is fast catching up in Indian metros too. You can see organic food brands stacked up in supermarkets' shelves and speciality stores, wherever you are. Some think organic food is healthy, others think it is a la mode - and, for some others it is the latest fad to run after.

Goodness of nature

Organic food is food that is produced using completely natural methods - avoiding all synthetic pesticides and genetically-modified organisms. Put simply, it is the food our grandparents and great-grandparents ate. Traditionally, agriculture was always "organic" for thousands of years, as pesticides and chemical fertilisers came into use only in the 20th century.

Organic farming seeks to leave the earth in its natural state after the harvest. Organic crops are grown without artificial fertilisers and pesticides, and livestock is reared free of drugs and hormones. This produces food of higher quality and nutritional value than conventional, chemical-based methods. If you want a diet that keeps you close to nature and is not tampered with chemicals - think organic.

Make the switch

Giving your entire kitchen an organic makeover may suddenly escalate your food budget. Organic ingredients cost at least 40 per cent more than conventional food, if not more. You may follow these simple tips though, without hurting your purse strings:

  • Don't feel that you must buy everything organic. Even switching to a few organic regulars makes a big difference
  • Do a slow switch. Pick up one or two organic items every time you shop. Try different brands, and buy something new to try, once a week. For example, pasta, spices etc.,
  • Shop around. Organic foods are definitely more expensive than non-organic, but the more people buy them, their prices will come down.

Once you've started making the change, you'll soon appreciate the manifold advantages of eating organic foods.

Cost stats

Since there are no insecticides, pesticides, growth hormones, or antibiotics, used in organic farming, you would expect organic food to cost less than regularly farmed food. But, this is not the case, today. What's more, agro-chemical agriculture is heavily subsidised as against organic farming. Also, the per-hectare yield in organic farming is much less than intensive farming. The high-costs, therefore, keep the turnover less and vice-versa.

Organic food is good for you, good for the farmer and good for our environment. With its three-fold goodness, organic food does seem to be a more healthy, attractive choice to make. While my kitchen today thrives on produce from regular farming, I'm going to grow my own little organic garden, someday.

You'd do this too!

8 Good Reasons to Be Pure & Sure

  1. Healthier for you. Organically produced food has, on an average, 50 per cent more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other micro-nutrients than intensively-farmed produce.
  2. No pesticides. Did you scrub and rinse the apple you had for breakfast? It doesn't matter. An average conventionally-grown apple has 20-30 artificial poisonous chemicals on its skin, even after rinsing. Over 400 chemical pesticides are routinely used in conventional farming and residues are often present in non-organic food.
  3. Good for the farmer. Agro-chemicals are not farmer-friendly. There are much higher instances of cancer, respiratory problems, and other major diseases, in farm-workers vis-a-vis non-organic farms. This is particularly true in developing countries, and for agro-chemical farms growing cotton. So, go organic if you care about other people.
  4. No genetic glitch. Genetically-modified crops and ingredients are not allowed under organic standards.
  5. No "drugged" animals. There is growing unease about the high use of antibiotics on farm animals and their possible repercussions on human health. Intensively-reared dairy cows and farm animals are fed a dangerous mix of antibiotics, growth hormones, de-worming drugs and many other medicines on a daily basis. These drugs are passed onto consumers of dairy/meat produce.
  6. High standards. Organic food comes from trusted sources. In countries like the UK and the USA, all organic farms and food companies are inspected at least once a year. The standards for organic food are laid down in European Law. In India, each organic food brand lays down its own standards.
  7. Good for wildlife and environment. Organic farming supports and nurtures our amazingly diverse wildlife. Over the last three decades, intensive farming in various countries has led to dramatic soil erosion. This has also led to a major decrease in many species of wild animals, birds, butterflies, frogs and grass-snakes, causing imbalance in our bionetwork.
  8. Tastes great. Organic produce simply tastes so much better. Fruit and vegetables are full of juice and flavour, as they convey the true taste of nature's bounty, and not chemical-driven unnatural produce.

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