Is organic food safe and useful

Frequently asked questions

Which products are there in organic quality?
Are Organic Food Healthier?
Why are organic products more expensive?
Are organic foods more prone to spoilage?
Are organic foods without additives and flavors?
Are organic products from distant countries ecologically sensible?
Are there also organic foods from fair trade?
Could pure organic agriculture actually feed the population?
Why is organic farming better for the environment?


Which products are in organic quality?
Everyone has probably seen organic quality fruit, vegetables, potatoes, meat, sausage, milk, bread or eggs. However, the limits are far from being reached: You can also find cereals, rice, cakes, pastries, pasta, muesli, spreads, dried fruit and wines in well-stocked supermarkets and in traditional natural food stores. Since Naturland introduced guidelines for organic aquaculture, organic fish and shrimp have also been available. In addition, preprocessed products such as frozen meals, ready-made sauces, pudding and baking mixes and even ice cream from ecological production have long since broken through. Organic coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate and organic herbs and spices are also available from fair trade in global and organic shops. You can find out more about this in our theme specials for wine and coffee, tea and Co.


Are Organic Food Healthier?
All food in Germany must be safe for health regardless of how it is produced. In addition, a single food cannot be "healthy". With their decisions about what they eat and drink when and in what amounts, everyone determines for themselves what impact their diet has on health. Too much fat always contributes to the development of obesity, regardless of whether it is organically produced or not. And those who eat a lot of fruit and vegetables are always doing something good for their body. From the previous scientific studies it cannot be proven that an organic apple contains about more fiber than a conventional one. However, there are indications that the content of so-called secondary plant substances in organic fruits and vegetables is higher than in conventional ones. These substances serve plants, among other things, as dyes or fragrances and are believed to have beneficial effects on human health.

It has also been perfectly proven that organically produced fruit and vegetables contain virtually no residues from pesticides and fertilizers. The exposure to nitrate is also - as a rule - significantly lower. Meat and meat products from organic production have no drug or hormone residues. And finally, there are none of the food additives in organic foods that are generally considered to be harmful to health. Only in wine can sulfur remain a problem for sensitive people. If you look at it from this perspective, organic foods are actually "healthier".

Different processing methods, old and unusual plant species and animal breeds, different feed, largely natural raw materials as well as great care and caution in processing ensure that organic food often simply tastes different. Variety and diversity are important features of a balanced diet that is beneficial to health and wellbeing. Organic food is definitely worth the cost for that too.


Why are organic products more expensive?
Organic farming is its own form of land management, in which the costs are distributed differently than in conventional farming and conventional food processing. In organic farming, for example, significant parts of the area are always cultivated with nitrogen-producing plants that are not intended for sale. The yields must therefore be generated with the harvests of the other areas. Cultivation without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is also much more labor-intensive because of the increased workload for applying organic fertilizers and removing weeds, but does not bring the high harvests that conventional farming achieves with these aids. In addition, the animals are fed longer on ecological farms and protected from diseases by other means. Here, too, the workload is greater. Since there is no intensive fattening, the quantities of meat ultimately sold are also lower. The costs are also distributed differently in further processing: the organic quality raw materials purchased are more expensive. Likewise, natural aromas and pure spices cost significantly more than artificially produced aromas and spice preparations with fillers. Processors who also produce conventional food or process conventional raw materials have to separate their production lines very carefully. This effort also costs. The internal control systems and the documentation of all operational processes also have an impact.

When comparing prices, however, organically produced foods do not necessarily have to be the more expensive ones. Because of their high quality, a comparison with the cheapest conventional product in the range does not make sense. In addition, the price differences between the ranges are not the same: for basic foods such as milk, flour, pasta or bread, the price difference is only around 15%, while organic fruit, vegetables and meat often cost significantly more than the conventional alternatives. Here everyone has to decide for themselves what requirements they place on food and with which products they are to be met.


Are organic foods more prone to spoilage?
A simple yes or no is not possible here, because protection against pests and spoilage pathogens is always a question of hygiene and careful handling: If handled roughly and at high storage temperatures, conventional and organic apples get brown spots and are more susceptible to mold.

Dispensing with a number of preservatives in organic food undoubtedly places higher demands on hygiene in the production chain. And citrus fruits that are not protected with peel treatments that are prohibited in organic farming are also easier prey for mold. On the other hand, the shelf life of apples, carrots and the like from organic production is much greater because the varieties are more robust. Good shopping planning, refrigerator hygiene and careful handling of food are essential in any case.


Are organic foods without additives and flavors?
According to the EC organic regulation, only 36 of the more than 300 approved additives for organic food are permitted in Europe. Flavor enhancers and coloring agents are completely prohibited (however, natural coloring agents are allowed to color the shells of eggs). The guidelines of the organic farming associations are even stricter. A list of additives that may also be used in organic food is available here as a PDF file for download.

Nature-identical flavors, which are made from natural substances but by no means from the named fruits, are also forbidden for organic products. Flavors that are obtained in different ways from the eponymous fruit are also allowed in organic farming. In which cases they may be used is regulated in detail in the processing guidelines of the cultivation associations. In the database http://www.zusatzstoffe-online.de/ you can find out about all currently approved food additives. Here you can search for a substance by its function, name or E number and receive detailed information about its manufacture, areas of application and health assessment.


Are organic products from distant countries ecologically sensible?
Of course, long journeys by ship and air are an ecological burden. It is therefore advisable to buy food with short transport routes if it is growing regularly. Food from the vicinity of the place of residence, the region, which has been harvested in its specific season, is often the better ecological alternative. In this way, local farmers receive support and consumers receive particularly fresh products.

However, many beloved products such as bananas, citrus fruits, coffee, tea or cocoa cannot be grown in Europe or cannot be grown in sufficient quantities. It therefore makes perfect sense to ensure that imported goods are produced organically: conventional production with monocultures and with large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers causes great ecological damage in the countries of origin. Ecological cultivation reduces environmental damage, groundwater pollution and health hazards for the farmers - even where the pepper grows and the lemons bloom.


Are there also organic foods from fair trade?
Yes, because ecological and social fairness are two sides of the same coin. The production of food must not lead to harm to nature or people in any part of the world and should never be associated with exploitation.

Coffee, tea, cocoa, bananas, sugar, citrus fruits, honey and spices come from countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where fair trade helps farmers to have a dignified existence. The fair trade organizations reward the conversion to organic farming with surcharges for the producers. Already 40% of the foods with the TransFair seal are produced organically today. Especially in world shops, but you will find eco-fair products in more and more supermarkets. In addition to the TransFair seal for Faren Handel, you will also find the designation bio / eco, the bio seal or the mark of an ecological cultivation association and the EC inspection body number on these products.


Could pure organic agriculture actually feed the population?
Science has not yet answered this question. What is certain, however, is that organic agriculture can still be increased significantly worldwide. In Germany around 17 million hectares of land are currently used for agriculture. Ecological animal husbandry needs larger areas, so that the area requirement for ecological agriculture would be somewhat larger overall. It must be taken into account that in relation to the food energy ultimately obtained, animal husbandry requires significantly more space than the production of plants: although animals convert plant energy into animal energy, they need a large amount of feed. To grow the wheat that would provide 1,000 kcal in our diet, 0.6 square meters of space are required. For 1,000 kcal from pork, on the other hand, you need 2.8 square meters. In organic farming, the areas are 1.0 and 4.5 square meters, respectively. With less meat consumption, it would be quite possible to expand organic farming significantly without causing any food shortages. The sticking point, however, is still demand: organic farming can only be expanded if consumers are willing to buy these products.


Why is organic farming better for the environment?
Easily soluble mineral fertilizers are largely avoided in organic farming. In addition, the number of animals that can be kept in a certain area is limited. Both of these benefit the soil, as significantly less nitrogen is introduced in this way. As a result, fewer nitrates and minerals are washed out into the groundwater and into lakes, rivers and streams. Because chemical-synthetic pesticides are forbidden, animals and plants that are considered "weeds" and "pests" in agriculture are not destroyed. In this way, many beneficial insects retain their food and habitat. If the biodiversity is preserved in this way, natural balances of beneficial insects and pests can be established. It is true that organic farmers consume more diesel fuel on average than conventional ones because weeds are done mechanically, for example with tractor-pulled harrows, and organic fertilizers also have to be applied more frequently. Overall, however, organic farms consume less energy because they ensure that all processes use less resources. Lower energy consumption also means lower fuel consumption to generate electricity and thus lower emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.