Organic whole food is a combination of two different concepts. First, organic foods are those that are grown in a specific way that minimizes the use of pesticides and genetic modification. Second, they minimize processing and additional ingredients once they have already been grown. Organic whole food is therefore food that is both organic and whole, although there are some social complications surrounding the use of this term. These two concepts are so tightly bound together that it is sometimes difficult for people to realize that the benefits of one do not always apply to the other.
The first question involved in the definition of organic whole food is what constitutes organic food. Different areas have somewhat different regulations on this matter, and what counts as organic in one country may not in another. It is also important to note that organic is not synonymous with environmentally sound, although many producers of organic foods attempt to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
Of course, definitions of whole food differ as well, although this usually depends not on a regulatory agency but on individual opinion. A very safe understanding of the foods that are part of the category of organic whole food includes organic unprocessed grains, organic fruits and vegetables, and organic milk that has not been pasteurized or otherwise altered. In practice, however, organic whole food is usually vegetarian, as there are restrictions on pasteurization of milk in many areas, and many consumers of this type of food are also vegetarian.
One of the questions that many people who consume this type of food must consider is whether it is truly healthier than processed foods. In many cases, the care with which this type of food is grown and prepared means that it is indeed healthier than alternative processed foods. Even so, some processed foods can be as healthy and nutritious as organic whole foods, so it is difficult to determine whether health is a major benefit of this type of food.
Many people, however, find that organic whole food is unrivaled in terms of flavor. The difference between organic and conventional fruits, for example, is cited as being noticeable even to people who would not normally buy organic foods. Culinary benefits of this type of food are understood to be excellent, although organic food is often more expensive than conventional versions.
Environmentally, there is much debate about whether this type of food truly makes a positive impact. Some people believe that pesticides are a major problem in the environment, while others argue that chemicals can be safe to use. In time, science will elucidate the correct perspective.