Eating kosher and organic foods has been trendy for a while now, but are they really that much healthier than the regular, non-organic foods that have been found in grocery stores for years? After all, they are essentially the same foods, and some cynics like to claim that slapping the word “organic” on produce is just a marketing ploy intended to raise prices. Some articles, such as this one from the New York Times, have even questioned the value of going organic.
And yet, others have argued that eating kosher or organic foods is better for people, despite some studies claiming to have found little evidence to support that idea. Here are just four good reasons to consider organic and kosher foods.
Strict Rules about Food Preparation
One of the reasons why so many people eat kosher and organic foods is because they are subject to stricter rules about preparation and packaging. This is especially true of kosher foods. The word “kosher” means “fit” or “proper,” and in order to be able to call a food kosher its manufacturers must be subjected to a close inspection and rigorous scrutiny of food safety and ethics practices. Grains and produce need to be inspected closely, and all kosher meats have to come from animals that are raised and butchered in a specific and humane way. Preparing and packaging kosher foods is definitely an arduous process, but for many the healthier and more pure end product is worth the effort.
Fewer Pesticides Are Used
Fruits and vegetables that have been certified organic are far less likely than conventional produce to contain residues from pesticides. Pesticides may be useful in protecting crops from insects and other pests, but they are still toxins that may interfere with a healthy body’s functioning. There may be little evidence that the residue from these substances has ill effects on people, but as Huffington Post blogger Maria Rodale points out, the little research that has been done has yielded troubling results. Pesticides have been linked to central nervous system disruption, infertility, cancer and changes to human DNA. Not surprisingly, many people are willing to pay for organic produce if it means not being exposed to these potential issues.
Much like produce and pesticides, meat that is certified organic is less likely to contain antibiotics that are commonly given to livestock. These antibodies do make animals more resistant to disease, but it can also mean that their meat may contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Since organic meat does not contain as many of these antibodies, it is arguably safer to eat than conventional meat.
Finally, organic foods of all kinds are less likely to contain many of the chemical additives that are found in conventional foods. These include artificial sweeteners, preservatives, food coloring and other such substances that are banned or severely restricted in organic foods.
Overall, organic foods are technically no more nutritious than conventional foods. In the end, people are eating the same foods. However, organic and kosher foods are subject to stricter regulations when they are raised, harvested and packaged, which makes them safer than conventional foods. More research does need to be performed to find out how much healthier organic and kosher foods are, but right now it seems that they are definitely preferable to most foods found in grocery stores.