Why people have doubts about organic foods - GulfToday

Why people have doubts about organic foods

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

Organic vegetables.

Representational image.

Last weekend for lunch we had Chinese-style fried rice that we made ourselves using spring onions, sliced red chillies and a dash of soy sauce. It was homemade but I reckon with the dash of the sauce it wasn’t a hundred per cent healthy. Add to that the side dishes that we decided to buy from a local Chinese restaurant. We had sweet and sour chicken, Manchurian chicken and their noodles. I mean it was the weekend and we thought, why not do something different? Besides, we don’t do it every weekend; 99% of the time we have home-cooked food that has no processed ingredients in it. Yes, our Chinese style rice did have the process sauce in it and, yes, all the side dishes that went with the rice were also very processed but, again, it was a once in a blue moon takeaway so not a big deal. But processed foods are indeed a big deal, and rightly so. In fact, almost every aisle in the supermarket is laden with food that is not in its purest form. In fact, even foods that you think are in their purest form are not.

Take corn on the cob, for example. It’s in the vegetable section, and rightly so, because it’s technically a vegetable but it’s a processed vegetable in the most literal sense of the word. Did anyone know that both corn and maize do not exist naturally in nature? Until around 7,000 to 10,000 years ago, this plant had never been seen or heard of. Thousands of years ago, it is believed that the Central Mexicans did a bit of engineering to develop this food product which, if left on its own after planting, would not be able to survive. Corn, is therefore, a man-made vegetable. Now, is this plant good for you? I don’t know, but you will notice after eating it, that it’s very difficult to digest. The point is that this vegetable started off life being processed. Now imagine it being put into tins? It’s processed again. And finally, imagine tortilla chips, that are made of corn. It is now ultra-processed, which is not a good thing at all.

Yes, corn started off life as a ‘selectively bred’ product so even in its purest state it was never really pure. In fact, I believe that a lot of our vegetables, although they seem pure from their appearance, have either been modified in some way or have had something done to them so they can resist pests. Most of our fruits and vegetables have had pesticides sprayed on them and artificial fertilisers added to boost growth.

But now the question might be, which vegetable product is not processed? First let’s clarify what processed means. It means that a food item has been ‘tampered with’ during the preparation process. This could mean that something, or some things, have been added to it or something has been removed. It could be a chemical or even something so simple as salt, sugar or vinegar to act as a preservative. Moreover, farmers have been known to add artificial fertilisers to boost production, and insecticides and pesticides to protect them from being eaten by anything other than human beings. So, in my view even basic vegetables like carrots, potatoes, spinach and coriander may all have been processed whilst they were in the field growing.

There is now something seriously off about some of the fruit and vegetables we buy. Have you ever tried to boil some varieties of potatoes and found that no matter how long you keep them boiling away on the cooker the thing just does not soften? It is not only still crunchy in texture (and it shouldn’t be after boiling for more than half an hour) but it gets a weird kind of translucency to it, almost like it’s a transparent plastic! Some varieties of rice are also like that. Even the fruit we buy has something off about them. Some don’t taste like the fruit they’re supposed to be. Some even have that distinct chlorine taste to them, as though they’d been watered with swimming pool water while they were growing.

I also have serious reservations about organic foods. I buy the odd organic fruit and vegetables and the size of some of them casts serious doubts in my mind as to their origins. Organic produce is supposed to have minimum human intervention yet some of their products seem to outgrow their natural size. How is that possible, if they’re organic?

Related articles