Is Organic Really Better? Healthy Food or Trendy Scam?


Over the last few years, organic food has spread like wildfire. Despite higher prices, buying organic is turning from an alternative into a moral and social responsibility. Organic food is supposedly healthier more natural and more ethical. But what do we even mean when we say organic? There’s no global consensus, so different regions have different definitions and rules. In general, organic food is farmed without GMO seeds, synthetic fertilizers, or synthetic pesticides. Instead, organic farmers use more traditional ways of producing food, like crop rotation, and use organic fertilizers such as compost or manure. While the motivation to buy organic food is clearly noble, is it actually effective or just another costly trend we can skip without feeling guilty? [Music] Is organic food healthier? One idea associated with organic crops is that their natural cultivation is supposed to make them more nutritious and healthier. Indeed, several studies found that organic foods contain more antioxidants. Plants produce them as a sort of homemade pesticide. Organic plants seem to have to work a little harder, while regular plants have plenty of help from humans. Antioxidants are believed to have some health benefits, although scientists are still on the fence about them in general. We have no idea if and how exactly they help us, or how much produce you’d have to eat to absorb a certain amount. What about organic being more nutritious? Well, the evidence is mixed. Some studies found that organic food can have slightly higher concentrations of vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids, while others did not find significant differences. Overall, the mixed evidence suggests that there are only small differences in nutritional value. So, from the science available so far, it doesn’t look like organic food has significant health benefits. What we do know, is that eating fruit and veggies in general is good for you, and most of us don’t do that enough. Eating veggies is more important for your health than how they were produced. Is organic food more natural? People don’t only buy organic to get extra vitamins, but to avoid something toxic; artificial pesticides and fertilizers. And indeed several studies show that there actually is less pesticide residue on organic produce. But here’s where things get complicated. Less pesticide does not mean none at all. While pesticides are supposed to be a last resort in organic farming, they’re not forbidden. Most organic pesticides are natural toxins, like vegetable oils, hot ash soap, sulfur or copper sulfates. But there are synthetic substances as well. What’s the difference between organic and regular pesticides? Not a lot actually. Organic pesticides are not necessarily safer than conventional ones. Toxic is toxic. No matter if the substance is manufactured, or derived from nature. In fact, in the case of copper sulfate, often used on organic apples, the organic pesticide of choice is actually more harmful to humans. The toxicity of any substance depends on its concentration and your exposure to it — not if it’s natural or not. There are a few recent studies about how our current level of pesticide exposure affects our long-term health. The 2018 study from France associated never eating organic food with a higher risk of certain cancers. The study was criticized a lot though. The participants reported their dietary habits themselves, while no actual tests of pesticide levels in their bodies were done. Complicating things even more, a Danish study from 2018 found that the danger from pesticides for an adult was similar to drinking a glass of wine every three months. The pesticides on your vegetables are nothing to lose sleep over. Despite this, we should continue to demand strict standards for our food. All pesticides are regulated and tested very strictly in the EU and the US. Every year, thousands of food samples are screened for pesticides. The majority of samples have no residues or just a fraction of the tolerance level. Right now, contamination from bacteria and fungi is much more dangerous. And, on this front, the risk is the same — be it organic or regular food. Is organic food better for the environment? In 2017, a meta-analysis looked at organic farming in detail and analyzed organic and regular foods from over 700 production sources, and their impact on categories like greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, and land needs. The result? No production method is clearly better for the environment. Organic systems use less energy than conventional ones, but have similar greenhouse gas emissions. Organic farms use less pesticide, but need much more land to produce the same amount of crop. These mixed results were also confirmed by a report from the Swedish food agency. Organic and regular were equal in most regards. The biggest difference was land use. And here conventional farming clearly won, and ecotoxicity where organic farming has a clear advantage. So, according to these results, conventional farming actually has a little bit less impact on the environment compared to organic. The bottom line is organic food isn’t superior to regular produce as far as we know. But, organic agriculture also has an impact at a broader level. Demand is rising constantly, and the struggle to supply the market can lead to production methods that are less sustainable in other ways. Spain, for example, grows tons of regular and organic vegetables destined for export in vast greenhouse areas which use a lot of energy. And have other environmental impacts, such as significantly higher greenhouse gas emissions. And, because growing demand can’t be covered by domestic production, the global trade and organic foods is also increasing. As supply chains get more and more complex, to make all kinds of foods available in organic quality, ensuring organic quality standards and regulations gets ever more difficult. This has led to incidences of fraud where conventional food was labeled and sold as expensive organic produce. But, organic versus conventional food isn’t even an objective discussion. Organic is not simply a production method. For many, it’s an ideology. Buying organic feels right. People want to do the correct thing for the health of their children, and the well-being of the planet. But, our instinct to think of organic as good, and conventional as bad, can get in the way of making the most reasonable decision. The solution could be to stop seeing organic and conventional farming as irreconcilable. They both have pros and cons, and the best way to produce healthy food efficiently would be a combination of their best features. And, as for your personal shopping, what food you should buy depends on what you expect from it. If you simply want to eat healthily, you should buy more fruit and vegies of any kind, not necessarily organic. If your concern is for the environment, then simply buying organic won’t solve this problem for you. The easiest option, is to buy local food that’s in season. Basically, seasonal is the true organic. To sum up, an organic label is a manufacturing notice, not a security certificate or a silver bullet for your diet. What you eat is much more important than how its produced. Production is very important for our animations though. We make them with a lot of love and care, and the best thing is you can learn how to do them. Kurzgesagt joined Skillshare, our favorite online learning community for creators with the three-part series of 2D animation classes. Skillshare offers more than 25,000 classes on everything from film, writing, design, and technology, from skilled experts. The premium membership gives you unlimited access for only $10 a month. But we got you a treat! The first 1,000 people to use the link in the description, get their first 2 months for free. So, to kick-off 2019, if you want to give animation a try, and breathe life into our characters, or learn something else to fuel your creativity or even career, now you can!

100 thoughts on “Is Organic Really Better? Healthy Food or Trendy Scam?

  1. There are a lot of points that I agree with in this video but buying "local food that's in season" isn't always the best option because most local farms also use pesticides, gmo, bad fertilizers. The best option is to grow your own food. There, you know what you put into it. But yeah, most people don't have that opportunity. Regardless, eating more fruits and vegetables of any kind is definitely a healthy option. Thank you for your videos! Very informative and fun to watch!

  2. I can't live I a world without vehicles or fruit I need fruit its sweet and yummy and eyes I like carrots, brocoly, cucumber, colieflower, beans and peas!

  3. Wait a second? Is it okay for US "Organic" Farmers to use pesticides etc.?
    In DK it is illegal to use any kind of pesticide (natural or not) in organic farming, thought they do use biopesticides in greenhouses (they release predatory insects to kill the harmful ones).

  4. Bird 1 : Joey, Let's buy an organic juice for $5 !
    Bird 2 : Let's just drink these regular juice boxes that i got from Food & Stuff for ¢1

  5. You feed a chicken organic soy, you feed a cow organic corn, you have an organic product. That is still a low quality product as chickens didn't evolve eating soy and caws can't easily digest corn. Organic is a smoke screen to distract people from the real issue, that is eating unnatural food that is artificially raised

  6. Hmmmm i am having a difficult time accepting that glyphosates are no more harmful for you than a glass of wine every 3 months, given the research linking it to cancer etc. Also let's talk about the environmental cost of all these chemicals be they organic or not. We now hav le whole water systems destroyed by algae related runoff, plants resistant to roundup and fungal diseases that were never pathogenic before due to profilactic use of antifungals in fields. So i think trying to produce food with minimal treatment may be the best for us and the environment…

  7. If is truly organic that means that the fruit or vegetable won't be forced to grow faster, in this way it will taste better. Did you know that every fruit or vegetable is picked up green sprayed with some chemistries and in the way to the store grow without sun inside the trucks ..

  8. Soil degradation though due to industrial farming? Isn't there evidence to suggest crop rotation and growing multiple different plants is better for the surrounding natural world and wildlife?

  9. Stop talking about greenhouse gases. This is a hoax, as CO2 is NOT the cause of climate change, as is well known now that the hoax has been revealed . Global climate change is a natural cyclic process caused by orbital irregularities of the planet and solar cycles and is NOT CAUSED BY CO2 .Any level of CO2 above 40ppm has ever decreasing non linear effects on the planet's atmosphere. CO2 is essential for photosynthesis, and MUST be at a level above about 180ppm for plants to survive and hence the rest of dependent life. Greater levels help plants to be more productive and water efficient. The level of CO2 is quite low at the moment compared to usual earth levels. Check the data.

  10. Pourquoi pas une prochaine vidéo sur les agriculteurs bio, de proximité, qui n’utilise pas de véhicules motorisés et qui utilisent moins d’espace que l’agriculture conventionnelle.
    Ps : j’ai découvert ce type d’agriculture avec le film demain.
    Why not a next video about organic farmers, close to home, who do not use motorized vehicles and who use less space than conventional agriculture.
    Ps: I discovered this type of agriculture with the film « demain ».

  11. Does anyone know the different effects on wildlife populations? Ik people say organic helps the bee population but is that true?

  12. 🍇🍈🍉🍊🍋🍌🍍
    🍎🍏🍐🍑🍒🍓🍅
    🥝🥑🍆🥔🥕🌽
    ._.

    aww now I can't eat meat
    :'(

  13. the recent animations for the videos have recently included more pointless, weird, and biased animations, contrasting with the factual, pondered view of the narration.

  14. Hi, First of all I have to say that I like your channel, find your video about blake holes and space realy overwhelming. But I think that your vision about organic food is a bit narrowed.
    For example you said that organic food needs more space, but it's not necesseraly true, take permaculture for example. Why taking more place is an environnemental issue ? why does it polute more ?
    What you said about pesticide is strange too : chemical pesticide have a bigger impact than natural it's sounds logical, so they have are not good for the planet.
    About transport : You said that the more organic food we need, the more transport logistic it involves. I think it's not exactly true, because transport logistic already exists for traditionnal farming, only the food transported is changing. And more organic food needed involves more local farmer converting themselves to organic farming techniques.
    And what it's not necesseraly true, take cow milk for example : if it's organic, cows just eat the grass from around the farm and no animal floor from a far country.
    One thing you do not talk about is that organic food is forced to have tracability of the product and traditionnal do not.
    I understand that short videos involves a lot of cuts but I hope that your video about dark matter and black holes don't suffer the same lack of background.

  15. How do you make a video about organic food vs. GMO's without even mentioning Monsanto and the lack of unbiased experiments on their products?

  16. I don't know the exact details, but do your own research if you want to know more.

    Completely untreated naturally grown apples (and other similar fruit like pears) carry some sort of antioxidant in their skin that is the strongest anti cancer treatment and prevention, the apples lose this ability when they are treated with pesticide as they become lazy and no longer need to produce it, as shown in the video. But it's even worse as new seeds of these apples also lose this antioxidant. So they are a dying breed.
    And as said in the video, even most organic apples are treated and have lost the ability. You can only get it if you home grow or you know your source is absolutely clean.
    And who knows what other fruits and veggies have benefits like this taken out.
    ''An apple a day keeps the doctor away'' didn't come from nowhere.

  17. The wealthy you are… the more organic you can be.  Most people where I live can only afford the cheap "carbs" and don't get enough fruit or vegetables (and lean meats).  So, organic is nice if you have that option.

  18. Its mostly GMO foods that I worry about. Take a look at the herbicide Glyphosate and the gmo grains that are gentically designed to resist it. Any non-organic corn or wheat is drenched with glyphosate and its been proven to be a carcinogen. So I only get organic breads and cereals.

  19. So um I have have vegetables that are in the back yard and I used some fertilizer on or some rich water thing on them

  20. We can't feed the all the people in the world with organic agriculture… We should research and find the actual limits of using synthetic and organic fertilizers and pesticides in specific crops for our health…

  21. I mean… Yes, organic requires more amount of land. But on the other hand, the intense use of pesticides contaminates the underground water tables ( idk if that word is okay, i just translated with google "Napas subterráneas"). So, because the non organic producing REQUIRES pesticides to produce, buying organic products is an option for fighting the climate change. Or at least, the health issues in countries like mine. (which are food producers essentially )
    p/s : English isn't my first language as you can see

  22. I didn't buy organic until the Monsanto Dark Act passed in 2013, allowing 3 times higher levels of glyphosate in crops. I will be buying organic that doesn't have (as much) glyphosate. This video does not address that at all.

  23. This vid is horribly wrong and misses a vast majority of the deeper nuances and details as to why organic is better than conventional. Organic is better, but the word is often misused. Organic means 0 pesticides, if they're used its not proper organic. The issues this vid brings up are not flaws in organic but flaws in human thinking.

  24. As an austrian i‘ve to say that it‘s ridiculous that the austrian government and austrian population think that we are superior because of our organic farming. Try to tell people here that organic isn‘t out climate saver or that organic isn‘t superior to conventional… callin you stupid smh

  25. Purchasing organic food is NOT morally righteous, but the opposite. It far less efficient and contributes to world hunger. If we want to feed the global population, we need to efficiently grow. If you want natural, we have an unnatural population to feed, so suck it up and buy normal food.

  26. refreshing and pretty accurate as a farmer I have grown non-GMO GMO conventional and organic crops this is one of the few videos I have ever found that gives a reasonable view of all sides of the issue thanks for the video.

  27. I see Genetically modified fruits and veggies as the biggest threat to our society. Eating organic certified stuff is the best way to avoid so far.

  28. I don’t even care about the nutrients and stuff I just feel like sometimes organic food tastes more natural which is only an opinion but yeah…

  29. I wonder what was the train of thought that lead the animator to depict seasonal foods as Batman eating a pumpkin on a porch.

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