food is very popular these days. It can also be very expensive. Some organic food costs twice as much as non-organic food. Parents of young children, and even some pet owners, will pay high prices for organic food if they think it's healthier. But many others think organic food is just a waste of money.
There is one main difference between organic and non-organic food. Organic farms do not use agricultural chemicals such as pesticides2
that stop insects from damaging crops. In many countries foods that claim to be organic must have special labels that guarantee they're grown organically3
Some people think organic also means "locally grown", and originally this was true. But over time organic farming has become big business, with many organic foods now being grown by large agricultural companies that sell their products far from where they're grown. Processed food made with organic ingredients4
has also become more popular. At first, only small companies produced these products. But as demand overtook5
supply, big food companies that had been selling non-organic products for many years also began selling organic products. Small organic food companies found it difficult to compete with these big companies, and many didn't stay in business much longer.
Is organic food safer and more nutritious6
? This is an important part of the debate. Many farmers and consumers believe it is. They think agricultural chemicals can cause serious illnesses like cancer, but there isn't much evidence proving this is true. However recent studies have shown that eating organically-grown produce reduces your chances of developing heart disease7
. Many doctors think it's more important to stop dangerous bacteria from contaminating8
foods. These bacteria can contaminate9
both organic and non-organic fruit and vegetables, and doctors recommend washing produce carefully before eating it. Meat, fish and chicken can also become contaminated10
, so washing your hands before handling these foods is also very important. Many doctors also believe we should reduce the amount of sugar in our diets, and there is a lot of evidence to support this idea. They recommend carefully checking the list of ingredients on processed food and drinks for all the words that really mean sugar, like glucose11
, sucrose and fructose. And they remind us that the aim of most big food companies is to make lots of money, even if they damage our health while doing so. This means processed foods that are called "organic" can also be very unhealthy if they contain lots of sugar.