If you bring up this topic in a relaxed atmosphere, long discussions can arise. Are organic foods healthier, more environmentally friendly and even tastier than conventionally produced foods? Is it enough to peel fruits and vegetables? Are all the colorful organic labels just a good Marketing strategy to make more money and just for eco freaks?
Let’s take a quick look at what organic actually means, which seals there are, what the price differences look like, how sustainable this is and whether organic is really healthier.
What does organic actually mean?
The EU defines the minimum requirements for organic food in the so-called EC Eco Regulation. This includes the following points, among others:
- No chemical pesticides or mineral fertilizers may be used when growing organic food.
- No genetic engineering may be used.
- A lower maximum number of animals per hectare may be kept. Animals are only allowed to get organic food and antibiotics are only allowed to be used for medical purposes.
- Only around 50 additives are permitted for the production of processed organic foods (more than 300 for conventional foods). The “prohibited” additives include sweeteners, artificial colors, stabilizers, preservatives and flavor enhancers.
- In processed organic foods, only 95% of the ingredients need to be organic.
What is allowed?
There are now a lot of organic seals and each one has different criteria. The EU organic seal sets the lowest organic standard – Demeter has the highest organic standard. What you shouldn’t forget despite all the seals – certification costs money and there are also farmers who produce organically without having a seal.
For a quick overview I found this overview with the most important organic seals of the University of Passau very helpful.
|Criteria / producer||conventional||EU organic||Naturland||Bioland||Demeter|
|Number of permitted food additives||300||47||22||23||13|
|Use of genetic engineering||allowed||up to 5%||no||no||no|
|Organic feed||no regulation||95%||100%||100%||100%|
|max. hens per building||no limit||20.000||12.000||6.000||3.000|
|Laying hens per square meter||10||6||6||6||4,4|
|Pigs per hectare||no limit||14||10||10||10|
|Dehorning of cattle||allowed without anesthesia||allowed||not recommended||permitted in exceptional cases||not allowed|
Ist Bio gesünder?
Just because you eat sweets with organic seal, you don’t have a healthy diet. Of course, it depends on the products you consume. Fresh fruit and vegetables or ready-made products?
A conventional apple has the same vitamin C content as an organic apple. But with the organic apple you don’t consume any residue from pesticides, some of which are suspected of causing cancer.
A diet without these substances is more likely to pay off over the years. At the same time, it is good for mother nature, whose biodiversity is not destroyed and our drinking water is also of better quality.
Is it all a question of cost?
Can families afford fruit and vegetables without residue from pesticides or meat without residue from antibiotics? It is actually worth comparing prices here, because organic food is not always more expensive than conventional food. There is definitely a big price difference between the cheapest conventional discounter goods and the 100% regional organic products from the health food store.
Since little attention is paid to environmental protection and animal welfare with the cheap products, you can buy 1kg of chicken for 2 €. The price hardly reflects the actual costs. My tip, just consume meat less often, but more consciously with a price that really reflects feed, animal welfare, rearing and slaughter. Because in organic quality, chicken legs cost at least five times as much.
If you buy branded products in the supermarket that often have an EU organic seal, you should try an appropriate organic product from the organic food store. Here the price differences are not that big – but the quality, depending on the seal. You know why? The expensive advertising of the branded products is included in the price 😉
The price differences are significantly smaller for fruit, vegetables and chocolate. So if you can’t afford to buy everything in organic quality, then at least for these products. In the case of potatoes and Co., you save yourself peeling and have more of it.
I only buy organic food myself, preferably from the farmer around the corner. And even if I dont have much money for a while, the last thing I save money is the quality of my food.
If you are interested and want to learn more about nutrition or if you want to change your diet, I will be happy to help you.