You have heard over and over again that it is important to avoid processed foods and to choose natural and organic foods whenever possible. However, many consumers are still not sold on this idea. Packaged foods are easier to make and seem to be cheaper in some cases, so why bother? There are several solid reasons for choosing natural foods.
The first, and perhaps the most compelling reason to choose natural foods is because you will avoid consuming too many chemicals in the form of additives and preservatives, as well as chemicals that are used as pesticides or added hormones used to help the animals grow faster. Organic foods do not use any of these added chemicals, nor do they use growth hormones in the feed for organic meats, which makes the food healthier. Each year, medical researchers discover more and more illnesses and health conditions that are related to chemicals in the foods we eat. As a result, the more you can avoid added chemicals and hormones, the better.
In addition to avoiding the use of chemicals, natural foods are healthier because they are more nutrient-dense. Natural foods retain more of their nutrients because they are not exposed to chemicals that leach them away. In addition, because natural foods do not remain on the shelf as long, they are consumed at the peak of freshness when they are their most nutrient-dense. Processed and non-organic foods may look fresh, but the chemicals may be preserving their appearance. In actuality, they could have lost many of their nutritional benefits from the chemicals and because they are past their peak.
Another reason why natural foods are better is because you control their preparation. When you purchase a bag of frozen vegetables that are meant for cooking in a skillet, for instance, they may be covered in a fatty sauce that is full of artificial ingredients. In addition, the vegetables themselves have been treated with preservatives and with pesticides. When you eat these prepackaged vegetables, you are consuming more chemicals than your bargained for. On the other hand, when you purchase fresh, organic vegetables and prepare them yourself, you are unlikely to add chemicals or as much fat or salt as are added during the manufacturing process. As a result, your meal is healthier.
Choosing natural foods also helps to preserve the environment. Organic farmers and ranchers choose natural pesticides and generally work in a more sustainable manner, such as by rotating crops to enrich the soil rather than by using chemical plant foods and by choosing helpful plants and insects as pesticides rather than harmful chemicals. These farming and ranching methods can actually benefit the land rather than adding pollutants and stripping the soil of nutrients.
Natural foods are also much more likely to help your local economy. Organic and all-natural foods do not have as long of a shelf life, which means that they are more likely to be grown and sourced locally or at least within your region. This benefits local farmers and ranchers, which in turn benefits the entire community. In addition, organic and all-natural food suppliers are more likely to be smaller or to be family-run operations, which directly benefits citizens rather than a corporation that will take the profits out of the community.
In addition to these benefits, all-natural and organic foods may actually be cheaper than processed or non-organic foods. Many consumers mistakenly believe that natural or organic means expensive, and this just isn’t the case. Organic foods are often only a few cents more expensive than natural foods, especially when it comes to produce. In addition, in general, purchasing produce and meats to prepare is far less expensive than choosing prepackaged meals or side dishes, which will immediately save you money. In addition, when health care costs are factored in, you stand to save tens of thousands of dollars down the road in healthcare costs just by eating a healthy, natural diet.
If you still aren’t convinced, try eating all natural and organic foods for a month. Compare the difference in how you feel, as well as the difference that refraining from purchasing prepackaged foods can make on your wallet. You will become a believer once you see the difference for yourself.