Organic panic

Exploring the latest food craze

(Photo by Dawn Gibson/ SAIT)

(Photo by Dawn Gibson/ SAIT)

Healthy, balanced diets are consistently cited by experts as a means to increase energy, reduce factors related to heart and cardiovascular diseases and promote longevity.

Maintaining a healthy diet, however, is often easier said than done. As for paying for it, well, that’s another story in itself.

An organic food logo was introduced in Canada in 2009 as part of the federal government’s Organic Products Regulations.

Outlined in these regulations are laws enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which work to create a consistent standard for organic food, defined as “products with 95 per cent or more organic content that have been certified according to the requirements of the Canada Organic Regime.”

As organic food has grown in popularity, so too has the question of whether or not eating organic is really worth all the hype.

“In my own subjective opinion, I think raw vegetables taste better organic,” said Benjamin Dubya, a Calgarian who leads a vegan lifestyle.

Dubya began eating more conscientiously based on suggestions from his doctor.

“There’s a difference in nutrient and antioxidant content between organic and regular foods,” said Dubya.

Despite claims like this, doubt lingers surrounding the legitimacy of organic foods. A 2012 study by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy argued that there is no way to guarantee that products labeled as organic are, in fact, organic, as they claim CFIA does not conduct any inspection process on foods they deem as such.

On another note, the inflated prices of organic foods, as compared to their non-organic counterparts, are known to be a deterrent for many, especially students.

“It is not very friendly on my wallet,” said Valentina Zapata, a University of Calgary student.

“I definitely see the benefits of it. I feel healthier. I enjoy it [and] I feel like I’m supporting local vendors.

“At the same time, it is a sacrifice. I am a student, I have a part-time job [and] I don’t make a lot of money.”

Most consumers understand that organic food is sold at inflated prices as a result of the increased resources needed to cultivate foods free of pesticides and genetically-modified organisms (GMO’s).

These costs, some believe, are a small price to pay for high-quality whole foods. Others, however, feel as though the potential health benefits don’t outweigh the challenges presented by the financial strain.

“If an organic juice costs $12, but four burgers cost the same amount, what do you expect people to do,” said Zapata.

“It is quite expensive.”

The challenge organic food often presents is the tension between the desire to eat healthy and the means to make that possible.

Still, Dubya, and others like him, eat organic as much as they can. At the same time, he recognizes that organic food just isn’t feasible for everyone.

“I don’t believe organic is the be all [and] end all. There are certain items I don’t buy organic.
“It’s more of a luxury than a necessity.”

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