Organic Food: Hype or Validity?

Written by: Samantha Burgess, Campus Editor

Someone has probably told you that eating organic food is better. You may wonder if this is true and if organic food is worth the cost.

Organic foods are any foods grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, genetic engineering, pesticides or drugs. They must follow certain USDA standards. If a product is labeled “made with organic products,” it has less than 70% certified organic ingredients. So, relying on “natural” and “locally grown” labels doesn’t mean you’re eating completely organic. For a food to be labeled “organic,” the USDA requires 95% of the ingredients to be organic certified. Ideally you want products labelled “100% organic.” Every ingredient in the product must be certified as organic with this label.

Organic food provides more phytochemicals and flavonoids that boost antioxidants. They also tend to be higher in Omega-3 fatty acids; however, conventional food doesn’t have less nutrients than organic food. Organic candy bars, soy desserts and fried vegetable chips aren’t typically more nutritious or less fattening than their conventional counterparts.

Pesticides are another reason you may choose organic food. Andrea Bostrom, a senior biology major, said, “Organic food can be useful for reducing pesticide exposure, but it is rarely worth the extra cost.” When tested, organic food had little to no pesticides compared to conventional grown products. However, there’s a risk of spray drift from nearby fields or chemicals in the soil. Although there is some risk with pesticides, exposure in the U.S.A represents an amount 10,000 times below the health risk level.


  • Phytochemical – various bioactive chemical compounds found in plants, as antioxidants, considered to be beneficial to human health.
  • Flavonoid – group of organic compounds that occur as pigments in fruit and flowers.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acid – an unsaturated fatty acid that occurs naturally in fish oil and is valuable in reducing blood-cholesterol levels.
  • Pesticide – a chemical preparation for destroying plant, fungal, or animal pest.

There are environmental and animal conscious reasons to eat organic too. Farmers use sustainable agricultural techniques when growing organic food. Composed manure or vegetable matter replace synthetic, petroleum-based fertilizers that pollute waterways. Farmers rid of pests by hand or through predatory insects that don’t harm the product. Farmers and ranchers of organic food keep livestock in natural surroundings with outdoor access. Animals in these conditions become large and healthy without the use of growth hormones, antibiotics or drugs.

You may choose organic foods because they are environmental and animal friendly products. But if you’re on a budget conventional, whole foods are still a good choice. When deciding between organic or conventional food, select a variety of foods from a variety of places and pay attention to food labels. Overall, you should weigh the prices and nutritional benefit of food to find what’s best.

Other Articles on Organic Food:

Is organic better for your health? A look at milk, meat, eggs, produce and fish.

4 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Eating Organic

Should You Eat REAL Certified Food? 

Samantha Burgess is a sophomore majoring in communication with an emphasis in digital media and is an assistant editor for the Triangle