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Organic Food Isn't Always Safer: Where Does your Food Come From?

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Although there are many reasons to go organic, it’s important to remember that choosing to eat organic food doesn’t mean that your food is automatically safe. A recent outbreak of botulism in Europe caused by an organic jar of almond-stuffed olives reminds us of this.

Not to worry though, Bio Gaudiano organic almond stuffed olives have been recalled in the United States.

Organic foods are great because you can count on not being harmed by the numerous harmful pesticides that are used on non-organic foods. However, there’s another side of organic safety many people aren’t aware of.

When I get organic food, I usually lazily justify not washing it and just assume it’s super-safe. However, NPR’s blog, The Salt, reminds us that, “organic food is often fertilized with manure, which can carry dangerous spores that occur naturally in soil. And if clostridium botulinim, the bacteria that causes botulism, makes it as far as a jar packed with oil and not much oxygen, it can flourish.”

Because clostridium butulinim is such a strong bacteria, even able to withstand boiling temperatures for hours, the FDA has taken various measures to assure improved safety standards for foods.

Although rare, botulism is a serious bacterial infection that usually is introduced into the body through foods, mainly canned or preserved foods. Occurring 8-36 hours after consumption of contaminated foods, symptoms can include difficulty breathing that can lead to respiratory failure, nausea, vomiting, weakness with paralysis, cramps and difficulty speaking or swallowing among others.

So for now, I think it’s just important to remember that organic isn’t always safer. Although I am an organic food enthusiast, there are some negative aspects about the stuff.

For one, it tends to get pretty expensive, being about 30-40 percent more costly than food that isn’t organic.

A few ways to be more certain that your food is safe:

Know where it comes from. Not only does eating locally help financially support your community, it also often helps to ensure freshness and quality.

Wash your produce well (even if you plan to peel it), avoiding chemical soaps or detergents to do so.

Scrub hard produce with a clean brush or sponge.

Dry with a clean cloth to further clear away any bacteria.

I don't want to discourage anyone from buying organic, by any means.

Being empowhered means obtaining as much knowledge as possible, and being able to make your own informed decisions!

Being aware of what’s in your food and where it comes from are steps in the right direction for food empowherment!


Botulism - PubMed Health. (n.d.). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001624

Paramapoonya, O. (n.d.). Facts about Organic Food. Hub Pages. Retrieved November 12, 2012, from

Produce Safety. (n.d.). U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from http://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm114299

Schute, N. (2012, November 7). Organic Isn't Always Safer When It Comes To Botulism : The Salt : NPR. NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2011/11/07/142110648/organic-isnt-always-safer-when-it-comes-to-botulism

Reviewed November 14, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment5 Comments

People are craving for organic foods like anything without knowing the source where they are coming from. Organic is good for choosing the right ones is important that are truly organic and are certified. Many farms are violating the rules and using chemicals and thus adulterating organic. So people must be careful while buying organic.

June 10, 2013 - 8:44pm
EmpowHER Guest

I think the bottom line here is to be mindful of what you choose to feed your body. Always! A similliar analogy would be that a herbal supplement may be harmful, just well as a chemical drug that an M.D. might prescribe you. Seems we all should be supportive to other woman rather than becoming hostile.... Everybody has different opinions and information. Sharing in a positive way is the best way to have your presentation considered

November 15, 2011 - 2:57pm
EmpowHER Guest

Nice post!!
Organic foods not harmful because Organic Foods are free from the plagues of industrialization. They are free from the various industrial chemicals that disrupt the natural flow of the ecosystem.

November 15, 2011 - 2:26am

Great to see you’re so passionate about the subject. However, I did state that I in fact, am an organic food enthusiast. As I stated in my article, “ I don't want to discourage anyone from buying organic, by any means. Being empowhered means obtaining as much knowledge as possible, and being able to make your own informed decisions!” 

I simply wanted to inform readers to be conscientious about where their food comes from.

I am sorry to hear that it’s hard to believe that I am knowledgeable on the subject. However, I used to grow my own produce, teach, and plant gardens at middle and high schools, so I hope that changes your mind. Check back this Wednesday, I think you’ll enjoy the article I’ve written!

November 14, 2011 - 9:47pm
EmpowHER Guest

Organic Food Isn't Always Safer: Where Does your Food Come From?
WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP!!! They are trying to give Organic foods a bad name! Please do the math and research before you write about something you clearly have no clue about... I bet you eat Mcdonalds toxic foods and have brain damage.

November 14, 2011 - 5:52pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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