Updated: May 30
What are the benefits of organic food?
Research shows organic food, including fruit, vegetables, eggs and dairy, may have extra nutritional value and environmental and animal welfare benefits. So, it’s clear why parents want to choose organic foods for their children!
Here we take a deeper look into the benefits.
What are the benefits of organic food?
Organic food and pesticides
Are organic foods pesticide-free? Yes! Organic food is produced without synthetic chemicals such as pesticides and artificial fertilisers. Whilst not completely chemical-free, the naturally occurring pesticide residues in organic foods are considerably lower than those found in conventional foods produced using synthetic chemicals.
Organic foods are not derived from genetically modified (GM) components or ingredients. GM is where the foods have been altered in a way that does not occur naturally using non-traditional breeding methods.
Nutritional value of organic food
Research has compared the nutritional content of organic and conventionally grown plants. Whilst both organic and conventionally grown foods can provide all the nutrients your child needs for a healthy balanced diet, research has shown that some organic foods have:
Lower nitrate levels
Higher omega-3 fatty acid levels
Higher vitamin C levels
Higher levels of phosphorous, magnesium and iron
Organic foods and the environment
Organic farms are only certified after operating according to organic principles for three years. Organic farming principles protect the environment and work harmoniously with existing ecosystems, including conserving water, soil and energy and using renewable resources. The farming practices minimise environmental damage by diversifying their crops and pastures, reducing soil erosion and nitrous oxide emissions.
Organic farming uses natural farming systems like composting, animal and green manure and physical weed control, keeping the land in good condition.
Organic farming generally operates on a smaller scale, and production is more labour-intensive. Because of this, organic foods are often more expensive than conventionally produced foods.
Organic farming animal welfare
Organic standard certification governs animal welfare provisions. Animals raised on organic farms are treated humanely and with respect. They have access to roam on pastures in the open air (not kept in cages or feeding lots) and have protection against the weather.
The cows feed on high-quality grasses, and their diets cannot be supplemented with genetically modified grain or grain concentrates. Under requirements for organic farming, growth-regulating drugs, steroids, hormones and antibiotics are all prohibited.
How do I know if I’m buying Australian-certified organic?
The use of the word ‘organic’ on a food label is not so well regulated, so it is important to make sure that the products you buy come from certified growers and producers. Don’t be tricked by claims the product is ‘natural’ or ‘chemical free’ if the correct certification labelling is not shown.
Tips when buying organic products:
Read labels carefully to see which ingredients in the product are organic.
Ask the business about any certification used and do some research if you are unfamiliar with it. Seven organisations classified by the Australian government as organic certifiers are listed below.
If no certification is used, ask the business to explain how its processes ensure its product is organic.
Accredited certifying organisations
Certification ensures that the ingredients, associated inputs, processing activities and transportation of goods all conform to the stipulated standards set out under the National Standards for Organic.
Where to buy organic food?
Organic food can be purchased from:
Some greengrocers and independent stores
Health food stores
Certified organic retailers.
Whilst the food sometimes doesn’t look as shiny or doesn’t grow as big as conventional ones, many people say they also taste better!
At Bellamy’s Organic, our foods are dual certified by Australian regulatory bodies, ACO and NASAA. This means that every step of our production chain, from farming to packaging, is regularly audited to ensure we keep our promise to make simple, nutritious, organic food free from all the bad stuff!
Shae Rickards is the Parents You've Got This Dietitian Expert from Bellamys Organic. She presents at our Starting Solids and Infant Sleep Masterclass.