Eating Organic and Why It’s Important

So you’re at the grocery store attempting to buy healthy foods for the week—low sugar content, high protein, no artificial coloring. You’re rushed to meet an appointment in 30 minutes, and let’s face it: no one really likes spending all of their free time at the store. Sometimes factoring in whether or not something is organic can be overwhelming and inconvenient. We get it. But setting aside some time to learn about organic farming and its benefits could potentially help save your body and your environment some years of damage.

The Cost:

One of the main reasons Americans aren’t buying organic is the price difference. Organic produce, whether it’s fruits and veggies or meat from a free-range farm, is known to have a steep price in comparison to non-organic competitors. What you’re really paying for are the treatments used on the produce and the environments they are farmed in.

Organic farming, though not entirely pesticide-free, uses significantly fewer chemicals than that of large-scale farms. In order for something to be certified organic, crops must be free from conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage, biochemically engineered cells, or radiation. Animals must be given only organic feed, no growth hormones or antibiotics, and must have access to the outdoors for grazing. Organic farms are typically small scale to make this possible, therefore decreasing the crop yield and increasing the overhead costs. When you buy organic, you are paying for fewer chemicals, kinder environments, and the hard work that goes into making that possible.

The Safety:

In regards to pesticides, it is pretty clear that your chances of finding residue in your food are significantly reduced when eating organic. Studies show organic produce had about one-third of the pesticide residue that conventionally grown products had and very rarely contained more than one type of pesticide. Seeing as GMO’s and conventional farming are relatively new concepts, there hasn’t been much research on the effects of these man-made products, but we do know one thing: our bodies were not created to process so many chemicals.

And while it is important to be aware of polluting your body, it is also just as important to consider the pollution going into the land. Toxic and persistent chemical pesticides have been accumulating at rapid paces, and a key way to reduce this build up is through organic farming. Opting to invest in natural processes is essential in keeping our earth intact for future generations.

The Goods & The Bads:

Overall, it is a much more sustainable choice to go for the organic produce every time, but the high costs are still recognized as a valid concern. Sometimes, you have to pick and choose. Fortunately, The Environmental Working Group has accumulated lists of the cleanest and dirtiest products when it comes to pesticide concentration. This list can work as a cheat sheet for what you can get away with buying conventionally and what is dangerous.

The Dirty Dozen (try to buy organic):

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

The Clean 15 (okay to buy conventional):

  1. Avocados
  2. Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower

It is important to remember to rinse ALL fruits and veggies before consumption, even if they are not high risk for pesticides or if they are organic. There can still be bacteria or other unwanted things on the surface of the produce, and it is an easy precaution to take.