As consumers’ demand for healthy foods increases over the years, organic food has become increasingly common in Singapore’s shops, supermarkets and even wet markets.
What Does Organic Mean?
Organic refers to the process agricultural products are grown and treated. Although organic standards differ from one country to another, organic crops are ultimately grown without using synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers, or genetic engineering (GMOs). Organic livestock must be reared in living conditions adapted to their natural behaviours, such as the ability to eat grass on pasture. Also, they should be fed with organic food and forages and not fed with antibiotics, growth hormones or any animal by-products.
The SFA or Singapore Food Authority does not provide any specific definition of organic foods. Nevertheless, organic food and beverage generally refer to products that meet Singapore’s organic standards, which means they are:
- Naturally grown without synthetics pesticides, fertilisers and insecticides
- Not processed or modified with synthetic additives or products
According to Singapore’s Food Regulation’s Section 9B (5), only certified organic foods following an inspection and certification procedure can be labelled as organic. In other words, only foods that passed the inspection and obtained the certification can be labelled organic in Singapore. Hence, while many people think that food must be grown in a specific way to be organic-certified, it also depends on the quality of standards by which the food is assessed and verified.
Benefits of Organic Foods
The way food is grown or reared can have a huge impact on the environment, as well as your mental and emotional health. Organic foods typically contain more nutrients like antioxidants than their traditionally-grown counterparts. Moreover, people allergic to foods, preservatives or chemicals will find that their symptoms decrease or disappear when they only consume organic food.
Here are some key advantages of organic food:
- Contain No Pesticides: Chemicals like synthetic fungicides, pesticides and herbicides are commonly used in conventional agriculture and stay in the food you eat.
- Tend to Be Fresher: Since organic foods do not contain preservatives, they are typically sold fresh. Sometimes, they are produced on smaller farms closer to the place of sale.
- More Beneficial to the Environment: Organic farming methods can lessen pollution, save water, improve soil fertility, reduce soil erosion and reduce energy consumption. Farming without using synthetic pesticides is also better for the nearby animals and birds and for people who live near the farm.
- Organic Livestock is Free of Antibiotics, Growth Hormones or Animal by-products: Feeding the livestock with animal by-products can increase the chance of getting mad cow disease or BSE. Furthermore, antibiotics can produce resistant strains of bacteria. In contrast, organically reared animals tend to have more room to move around and get outdoors, which helps them stay healthy.
- Organic Meat and Milk are Loaded with Nutrients: An European study in 2016 found that the content of certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, in organic meat and milk is 50% higher than their conventionally raised counterparts.
- Free of Genetically Modified Organisms: Genetically modified organisms OR GMOs or genetically modified foods (GMOs) refers to plants whose DNA has been modified in ways that cannot possibly happen in nature or traditional hybridisation, usually to resist pesticides or create insecticides.
Organic vs Non-organic Produce
Organic produce is grown with natural fertilisers like compost and manure. Weeds in organic are monitored naturally through crop rotation, manual weeding, mulch and tillage, or approved organic herbicides. Pests are also managed by natural techniques and natural pesticides.
On the other hand, produce grown conventionally utilises synthetic or chemical fertilisers, and the weeds and pests are controlled with chemical herbicides and synthetic pesticides, respectively.
Besides, organic livestock receives organic feed which is free of hormone and GMO. Farmers use natural methods, such as clean housing and a healthy diet, to prevent them from getting ill. The livestock can also move freely outdoors.
In contrast, livestock grown conventionally are given non-organic, GMO feed and fed with growth hormones for quicker growth. Rather than using natural methods, farmers utilise antibiotics and drugs to prevent disease in livestock. The livestock also does not have access to the outdoors.
Does Organic Mean Pesticide-free?
As stated above, one of the main advantages of consuming organic food is reducing pesticide levels. Nonetheless, despite widespread belief, organic farms do utilise pesticides. The only difference is that they only use natural pesticides instead of synthetic pesticides utilised in conventional commercial farms.
Where to Shop for Organic Food in Singapore?
Unlike in the past, where you can only find organic food in certain health shops, you can now can even buy them online from an organic store Singapore, such as Nature’s Glory, a reputable online organic food Singapore vendor that sells a wide range of organic products from organic foods to organic soap.