Pushing the trolley along the busy supermarket aisles, you reach your last pit stop before the queue at the till. You wear the shop’s biodegradable gloves and carefully start exploring the fruit department. Piles of apples stand right in front of you: spherical, bright red, ‘standard’ pomes on one side, bumpier and more discoloured ‘organic’ ones on the other. Which do you pick?
The decision seems pretty straightforward. Even more so when you glance at the price tag and notice that the organic apples are slightly more expensive. And so, just like that, ruby apples join your trolley of imminent purchases. But did you make the right choice?
When buying a ‘perfect’ apple, you may want to ask yourself why it looks so faultless. Chances are that, with the help of chemicals, it has grown faster and has matured into a more aesthetically pleasing fruit. While seductive to the eye, however, it may not be as welcomed by the rest of your body. Besides, it has a negative impact on the environment and wildlife too.
In this short guide, we explain why it is perhaps a better idea to opt for that more misshapen apple next time you go food shopping.
Eat food as it should be
In an ideal life, we would have amazing nutrients growing on our doorstep and would snack on protein-rich greens and blanched almonds all the time. The reality is, though, that most of us have to rely entirely on whatever our local supermarket has to offer.
As briefly mentioned, an organic product should always be favoured over non-organic food. While most studies cannot yet prove that organic food is more nutritious, it is fair to say that there are other reasons why organic foods are considerably healthier and safer to eat.
Indeed, non-organic products often contain chemicals and pesticides which are simply not good for you. If we stop to think about the pesticides, unlike the appetising ruby apples that they help to shape, it is not very inviting. In fact, pesticides are designed to kill and are therefore poisonous by nature.
Ingesting these substances can have collateral effects on our body, which vary from diarrhoea, vomiting, and asthma to cancer, infertility, and neurological problems. So why not contemplate switching to organic food?
Safeguard wildlife and biodiversity
Did you know that 41% of Britain’s wildlife species have decreased over the last 50 years? And that one in ten are sadly facing extinction? Unsurprisingly, the use of chemicals and pesticides is playing a significant role in this ill-fated trend.
Insects in particular have been suffering the most. Major global reports also foresee that, if intensive farming practices continue the way they are, insects will struggle to last for more than a century. Wasps and praying mantises may not be in your graces, but the truth is that they are all part of a balanced ecosystem that gives other animals food and nutrients. Not to mention that insects like bees are ‘pollinators’ that fertilise plants and enable them to produce seeds; without our buzzing friends, we would find it very challenging to find potatoes and strawberries on our plates or coffee in our mugs.
Conversely, organic food and farms help protect and incentivise wildlife. Not only are organic farmers allowed to use only 20 pesticides (as opposed to the over 400 adopted in non-organic farming), but these products also derive from natural ingredients and are permitted under restricted circumstances solely. What is more, for every 10% increase in insect-friendly environments, biodiversity grows by more than a third. What is not to like?
Think about animal welfare
Animal welfare is a top priority for organic farmers. Their animals are kept and treated on the basis of their natural needs and behaviour, allowing them to roam in ample habitats and enjoy indispensable outdoor space.
Failure to do so will not only have an impact on the wellbeing of cows, pigs, or sheep, it will also have a detrimental knock-on effect on the environment. Indeed, by crowding too many animals within a hectare of land, the farm ecosystem will not have the means to absorb all the manure produced. Needless to say, the excess manure will ultimately end up affecting the atmosphere or the groundwater.
Combat climate change
Alongside impacting our wellbeing and afflicting wildlife and biodiversity, the use of chemicals and pesticides in non-organic farming contributes to the acceleration of climate change as well. From causing long-term contamination of water supplies to accentuating soil degradation and erosion, it is clear that non-organic food does not do our environment any favours.
By using compost as its main fertiliser, organic farming instead enriches the soil and boosts the biological activity underground. Moreover, it keeps water supplies limpid and clean by blocking toxic runoff from chemicals and pesticides.
In short, by consuming organic food, you are also playing a vital part in combating the increasing phenomenon of climate change.
With these facts at hand, you may want to reconsider your shopping choices. When browsing through the fruit aisle, do not disregard the organic, bumpy apple sitting next to the blinding red one. It may be an ugly duckling on the outside, but it ultimately enshrines an eco-friendly pulp that is safer and healthier to eat.