Organic foods are produced by organic farming which doesn’t use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Organic farming aims to promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity, organic foods are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents or synthetic food additives. Organic farming is internationally regulated and legally enforced.
There are no major differences in the nutritional content of foods that are organic compared to those that are non-organic, but organic foods contain higher levels of polyphenols, phenolic acids, flavanones and anthocyanins.
Polyphenols act as a defence system in plant. They are found in products like wine, chocolate and tea. Polyphenols can interfere with the absorption of some nutrients. They are also phytoestrogens which means they have a similar chemical structure to oestrogen and can interact with oestrogen receptors in the body. It is thought that phytoestrogens my help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with menopause. Polyphenols are however antioxidants, and can prevent cell damage by free radicals and oxidative stress. Anthocyanins are also antioxidants and have the same protective effect.
In keeping organic livestock for meat and poultry, medicine may be used if the animal is sick, but medicine or hormones are not allowed for the purpose of growth of the livestock. Their feed must be organic and they must be pastured.