Organic vs Non-Organic

June 1, 2014

Is organic food really healthier? Is it more nutritious? What do all the labels mean? 

 

  • Organic produce contains fewer pesticides.These chemicals are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on (and in) the food we eat.

  • Organic farming is better for the environment. 

  • Organically raised animals are not given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts. The use of antibiotics in conventional meat production helps create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

 

Yes, organic food can cost more and that's what makes the Environmental Working Group's annual list of the dirty dozen foods so useful. The group analyzes Department of Agriculture data about pesticide residue and ranks foods based on how much or little pesticide residue they have. The group has estimated that individuals can reduce their exposure by 80% if they switch to organic when buying these 12 foods.

 

Does washing and peeling get rid of pesticides?

Rinsing reduces but does not eliminate pesticides. Peeling helps, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the skin. The best approach, buy organic when possible.

 

The following had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy organic:

 

  • Apples and all apple products

  • Strawberries

  • Grapes

  • Celery

  • Peaches

  • Spinach

  • Sweet bell peppers

  • Nectarines (imported)

  • Cucumbers

  • Cherry tomatoes

  • Snap peas (imported)

  • Potatoes

 

The following foods has the lowest pesticide load,  are the safest conventionally grown crops to consume from the standpoint of pesticide contamination:

 

  • Avocados

  • Sweet corn

  • Pineapples

  • Cabbage

  • Sweet peas (frozen)

  • Onions

  • Asparagus

  • Mangoes

  • Papayas

  • Kiwi

  • Eggplant

  • Grapefruit

  • Cantaloupe (domestic)

  • Cauliflower

  • Sweet potatoes

 

What do the labels mean? 

Products certified 95 percent or more organic may display the USDA Organic seal. 

 

Products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients may say "made with organic ingredients" on the label, but may not use the seal.

 

Foods containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients can't use the seal or the word "organic" on their product labels.

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