The produce aisle of your local grocery store is the first stop on the road to a healthy diet full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But many people wonder if they should spend the extra money to buy organic products. On average, organic fruits and vegetables cost 50% more than their conventionally grown counterparts. And organically raised meat and dairy products can cost up to 100% more.
Add to that the fact that organic produce often looks less “perfect” than conventional produce, and it’s easy to see why lots of folks pass right by the organics. But in order to get to the truth, you need to look beyond the glossy, perfectly shaped (and often genetically modified) apples and oranges, and get to the heart of the matter. There are many compelling health and environmental reasons to buy organic.
Let’s start with your health. At one time, all foods were “organic.” They were grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, hormones or irradiation. However, since the advent of chemical farming and food processing, the story has changed considerably. Short sited conventional factory farming and food processing practices have depleted the soil and food of many minerals and nutrients and filled them with pollutants and farm chemicals. The USDA found that even after washing, many conventionally grown fruits and vegetables consistently carry much higher levels of pesticide residue than those that are organically grown. These pesticides have been shown to cause cancer, liver, kidney and blood diseases and create extra work for the immune system. Organically raised meat and dairy products do not contain synthetic hormones or antibiotics, which have been linked to increased antibacterial resistance in humans. Simply put, eating organic is the best way to keep chemicals off of your plate and out of your body.
Children are particularly sensitive to exposure to cancer-causing pesticides in food than adults. Based on analysis of more than 100,000 U.S. government pesticide test results, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has compiled the “dirty dozen” list of the twelve most highly contaminated fruits and vegetables. Especially when feeding children, consumers should always buy organic if possible when it comes to:
- Bell peppers
On the other hand, there are also some fruits and vegetables that generally do not contain pesticide residues. You can safely buy conventional:
Further, organic produce just tastes better, too. Conduct your own taste test.
Its focus on working in harmony with nature also makes organic farming healthier for the environment. Organic agriculture practices respect the balance necessary for a healthy ecosystem. Crop rotation protects biodiversity; and wildlife is encouraged by retaining wetlands and other natural areas. Additionally, more energy is now used to produce synthetic fertilizers than to till, cultivate and harvest all of the crops in the U.S. Help protect the health of your family and the earth by choosing organic.