If you feel like you’re helping your family by purchasing organic food, but aren’t sure it’s hype or worth the extra money, you probably need some answers to help you make that decision. First, organic food is food using only grown differently if it’s fruit or vegetables and the animals are raised differently if it’s dairy, meat or eggs. There are no pesticides, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, ionizing radiation or genetically modified organism used on fruits and vegetables. Animals raised organically take no growth hormones or antibiotics. They’re often free range animals, grazing on grass or their natural source of food, rather than man-made feed.
Organic foods may have more nutrients.
In order for the land to be converted to organic, it takes three years to build up by natural means. Traditional farmers simply apply potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus, which can reduce trace minerals. Several studies show that today’s fruits and vegetables contain fewer nutrients each year. While there’s not as much study on the nutrient content of organic vegetables vs traditionally grown ones, but those that are available show that organic food has higher nutrient content, including vitamin C and phytochemicals.
If you eat traditionally grown, non-organic vegetables are you guzzling pesticides.
A great study every year is one run by the EWG—Environmental Working Group. They take samples of all fruits and vegetables and check for pesticides, even after washing them. Soaking them with baking soda and water helped. The Dirty Dozen is a list of the fruits and vegetables that contain the highest amount of pesticides. This year, it should be called the Dirty Baker’s Dozen, since it contains 13 foods. The Clean 15 is a list of the foods that have the lowest amount of pesticides and chemicals. You can use this list to save money. Choose organic when they’re on the Dirty Dozen list. You can buy traditionally grown food on the Clean 15.
Organic meat, dairy and eggs have benefits, too.
Not only are you avoiding the potential for additional hormones in your system and extra antibiotics when you eat organic meat, you’re also boosting the benefits that come from the products, especially when it’s grass fed organic beef and dairy. Grassfed beef and dairy products contain more Omega-3 fatty acids that are good for the heart. They also have a type of fat called conjugated linoleic acid. It lowers the risk of cancer and heart disease. There’s more natural antioxidants and vitamins in these products. Free range eggs have lower fat and bad cholesterol, more vitamin E, Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A.
- Fruits and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen list include: strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, sweet bell peppers and hot peppers. They’re in order from the worst to the least.
- The Clean 15 include: avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, onions, sweet frozen peas, papayas, asparagus, mangos, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower and broccoli.
- Organic farming is good for the planet. It replenishes the land, while providing humane treatment for animals.
- For a real taste treat that has more nutrition, choose heirloom varieties that are organic. There’s nothing like the taste of an heirloom tomato that hybridizing has destroyed.