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Behind The Label: Organic Foods

What does "organic" even mean, anyway? And what does it mean for you and your birds?

Patricia Sund

Follow Patricia Sund on Twitter at @parrotnation

Organic vegetablesI know you’ve read these phrases: The Organic Food Movement; Organic is Clean Food; Living Green by Going Organic.

But what exactly is organic food and why is it so different then just, well, ordinary food?

Organic vegetables are grown without the use of pesticides, bioengineering or radiation. It’s that simple.

Well, it sounds simple, but it really isn’t. Here’s the reasoning. You would think organic food would be less expensive because farmers aren’t spraying them with pesticides they have to buy. However, there is something you might not know.

Intensive farming companies known as "Agrochemical Agriculture” receives subsidies from the government supplied by the taxpayer, whereas the smaller organic farmer does not. In effect, your taxes are paying for the food in the grocery store that is not organic, and it is less expensive.

These subsidies began after World War II. There was starvation and famine all over Europe after the war and this was an opportunity for the farmers in the United States to export major tonnage of food where it was needed. In order to keep up with the demand and keep those people fed to prevent people from dropping like flies, new technology was developed in the 50’s to create products that allowed for massive amounts of food to be grown through the use of chemicals and pesticides so those people could be fed. Europe was a mess and food had to be produced to feed these people and thus, Agrochemical Agriculture was born.

The problem is, even though the need to feed Europe is no longer there, the method of farming remained as well as the subsidies.

I would assume that there is also a loss to pests and disease when you aren’t spraying your crop with chemicals. You are bound to lose a certain percentage of your crop to natural disasters and this makes for a smaller harvest. And the smaller the harvest the less you have to sell.

But wait! There’s more! This is where it gets interesting. Overall, organic farming is less expensive for a variety of reasons. You remember those chemicals that are sprayed on the produce in the fields? Well, it has to go somewhere and that "somewhere” is in the water. That water has to be processed to remove the chemicals used to produce the food in the first place. And who do you think is paying for that processing to remove the chemicals from the water supply? Yup. The consumer pays through taxes and their water bill.

The problem is, with the subsidies and the water bill being higher, you’re paying far more than you realize for those "less expensive” apples.

So this explains the higher cost, but is the cost worth it? Is it actually more nutritious than conventionally farmed food?

In July of this year, the British Journal of Nutrition published a paper containing research which blew the notion that organic foods are no more healthful than conventional foods right out of the water. They discovered that an organic harvest had higher amounts of antioxidants on average than the lower-priced  intensively farmed foods.

Scientists also have a hunch that organically grown food develops a higher resistance to insect raiding and produce more antioxidants and naturally developed toxins to defend themselves against routine natural hazards that threaten them.

In doing this research, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is probably worth it and that it might be less expensive in the long run due to a couple of reasons.

First, each mouthful of organic produce contains more nutrition than conventionally grown produce. Essentially, you’re getting more bang for your buck with organic food. It actually nourishes you instead of it being an "empty vegetable devoid of vitamins and minerals.

And second, in the long run, there is less of am effect on the environment. If everyone began buying organic, this increased demand might make a statement to those in the Agrochemical business.

Just a little something to think about when you’re shopping for produce for your flock.

Next: What's The Buzz On Bee Pollen? 
Bird Food: The Raw & The Cooked 

Psittacine Cuisine 

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Posted: September 4, 2014, 2:30 p.m. PDT

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Behind The Label: Organic Foods

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Reader Comments
This article is so incorrect it's laughable. I'm not sure who wrote this, but they clearly have no understanding of what organic means and how it differs from conventional foods. I would highly suggest you either remove this article from your site or rewrite it with actual facts. As a food scientist, a bird owner and a fan of bird channel, I'm extremely disappointed.

Also, how dare you make bird owners feel bad about what they feed their bird. Not everyone has access to or can afford organic produce. We all want what's best for our birdies, but this is just irresponsible.
Kristin, San Francisco, CA
Posted: 9/25/2015 7:31:25 AM
Are there any scientific evidence that organic is good for birds en regular products not?

I know everyone say organic, organic but I can't find any real evidence.

It is NOT true that all organic farmers do not use pesticides - that I know.

And no citations in the article?
Willem, International
Posted: 1/6/2015 10:09:35 PM
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