Organic Food as Medicine

January 8, 2022
By Mikayla Kremer

Is organic food more powerful medicine than conventionally grown food??

This may get a bit “science-y” but bear with me.

Plants contain nutritious and healing compounds called primary metabolites and secondary metabolites.

Primary metabolites, we are often more familiar with. These are our proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and nucleic acids.

Secondary metabolites, although less known are just as important, if not more important! Plant’s secondary metabolites are the compounds in plants that give the plant medicinal properties. These secondary metabolites protect the plant from pests, drought, other dominating plants around them, etc. Just like how humans and animals have an immune system to protect them from viruses and bacteria, plants have secondary metabolites to protect them. And when we eat plants, we get the healing properties of those secondary metabolites. Examples of these healing properties include antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, bitter to stimulate digestion, and adaptogenic (helping you adapt to stressors).

So, how does this relate to organic vs conventionally grown foods?

Conventionally grown foods are sprayed with pesticides and herbicides that protect the plant from insects, microbes, weeds, etc. Since the plant doesn’t have to protect itself from these pests and weeds, it doesn’t have to create as many secondary metabolites. Another reason why conventionally grown foods are very low in secondary metabolites is because they are typically grown rapidly, with a controlled amount of water, sunlight, and nutrients. They haven’t had to struggle and adapt to their environment to build up their secondary metabolites.

On the other hand, organically grown foods have to adapt to pests, microbes, draught, weeds, etc. These foods have to build up their own defenses in the form of secondary metabolites to these stressors. The more secondary metabolites, the more medicinal the plant is for you.

Because organically grown foods contain more secondary metabolites than conventionally grown foods, they are more medicinal. Every time you eat an organic plant, you are gaining their powerful defense and healing properties. Plants are our ultimate healers so don’t let a day go by where you aren’t eating plants, drinking herbal tea, applying a botanical lotion to your skin, or spending time with plants outdoors.