Small Steps, Sensible Choices, Superior Health.

Are Organic Foods
Really Better?

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Organic foods are produced using crop rotation and other natural means to fertilize and control pests and weeds. The farmer must adhere to strict government regulation in order to sell and label a food as organic.

Non-organic food on the other hand, is mass-produced using various methods including the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers to produce a larger more abundant crop.

However, quantity doesn't equal quality when it comes to nutrition.

Benefits Of Using Organic Food

One of the benefits of organic food is it tastes better and provides more nutrients.

Minerals are more plentiful in organically grown food. Chemicals used in mass production farms renders the soil sterile and produces depleted crops.

Growing food organically is also better for the environment. Traditional growing has harmful effects on birds, insects, and other animals due to the chemicals and other farming techniques they use.

Organic farmers on the other hand use a more earth friendly technique to protect crops from pests and fertilize the soil.

organic foods

Organic Farming Requirements

There are certain requirements that must be met to produce and sell organic products. The USDA has certain standards governing how the foods are grown, handled, and processed.

Any producer must follow these standards in order to label and sell a product as organic.

Growers who sell less than $5,000 a year are exempt from certification but must still follow the government standards if they use the organic label on their products.

What Qualifies As Organic?

To qualify as organic, foods need to be grown without using chemicals, pesticides, sprays, or fertilizers.

Organic forms of these substances are okay to use.

The soil used to grow the produce must also be free of these substances.

An organic product will carry a label saying, “Certified organic product”.

If it does not have this label, it may contain harmful substances.

A “natural” or “all natural” label does not mean the product is organic. It may or may not be good for you.

Although there are guidelines governing the use of “natural” labels, official certification is not required to use this label.

Is Organic Healthier?

While some may argue that there is no conclusive evidence that these foods are healthier than non-organic, there is recent evidence showing that they do contain more nutrients and fewer toxins.

Studies have shown that organic foods contain larger amounts of certain substances that protect again various illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

While some say the food tastes better, others claim they can tell no difference in the taste. However that could depend on the freshness factor, we all know the great taste of a fresh picked tomato from the backyard!

They are also believed to contain more nutrients and a lesser amount of chemicals and toxins than traditional or non-organic foods. Many report that food tastes better as a result.

Animals raised organically are not routinely given antibiotics, growth hormones and other medicines to be passed on to us when we consume the food.

Research suggests that the use of chemicals in food is linked to development problems in children and increasing health problems in general.

Studies Support Benefits Of Organic Foods

According to a study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, organically grown tomatoes contain almost twice the levels of Quercetin and Kaempferol, a subclass of antioxidants believed to reduce the risk of heart disease

According to Scottish researchers, organic vegetables contain six times the amount of salicylic acid, which helps protect against heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Organic foods are a healthy choice for better nutrition.

What To Do If You Can't Afford It?

We all know that extra time and measures are taken to produce organic foods, so it' not surprising that they would cost more. But let's face it, if you have limited dollars to spend, you have to make healthy choices that fit within your budget so you have to prioritize your spending.

Pregnant women and children are more vulnerable to the toxicity of pesticides because they are in the formative stages of life.  Small amounts of chemicals can have long lasting adverse effects.  So in these cases it just makes sense to invest in organic foods. See "making wise choices" below.

Many people ask if washing and peeling will get rid of the pesticides. While it will reduce some of the pesticides, it will not totally eliminate them. However, by peeling the produce, you are reducing the nutrient content as the vitamins and minerals are frequently just below the skin.

Making Wise Choices On A Budget

A Non-Profit group called Environmental Working Group ranks produce based on their level of pesticides and compiles a list. This can be very helpful in making wise choices on a limited budget.At the time of this writing, these were the following results.

The Dirty Dozen Listed in order of the highest level of pesticides.

  • Peaches 100
  • Apples 96
  • Sweet Bell Peppers 86
  • Celery 85
  • Nectarines 84
  • Strawberries 83
  • Cherries 75
  • Lettuce 69
  • Grapes-imported 68
  • Pears 65Spinach 60
  • Potatoes 58 

The Cleanest Dozen Listed in order of the lowet level of pesticides.

  • Onions 1
  • Avocado 1
  • Sweet Corn-Frozen 2
  • Pineapples 7
  • Mando 9
  • Sweet Peas-Frozen 11
  • Asparagus 11
  • Kiwi 14
  • Bananas 16
  • Cabbage 17
  • Broccoli 18
  • Eggplant 19 

For an updated list visit the EWG website. If you are working with limited funds, you can see that it makes more sense to buy organic if you are getting produce from the "dirty dozen" list.

Save your money and purchase non organics from the "cleanest dozen" list. 

Other Resources

Return To Healthy Choices Nutrition Page.

Go To Healthy Choices 4 Life Home Page.

EWG Pesticide Produce List

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