Friday, March 12, 2010

To buy organic or non-organic...that is the question...

Organic vs. non-organic (or conventional) produce has been a confusing issue for consumers. Organic produce is grown without the use of man-made fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals or herbicides. For a detailed description of what it takes for a food to be labeled “organic,” refer to the USDA’s regulations and definitions. Shop in peace by checking out the lists and facts below of what to buy organic and what to save money on by purchasing conventionally grown.

Buy organic

The foods below are known to contain the greatest amounts of pesticide residue:

  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Lettuce
  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Pears

Buy conventional (non-organic)

The following items are either protected by a barrier (via their in-edible skin) or do not get treated with an overload of pesticides.

  • Pineapple
  • Mangos
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Corn
  • Onion
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Bananas

Some things to consider when deciding to purchase organic or non-organic produce.

  1. The cost. Organic produce is typically more expensive than regular produce. Organic crops have a lower production yield, more labor intensive practices (ex. Hand-weeding instead of using pesticides) and are subject to tight government regulations. All of these things add to the price tag. Try to shop at your local farmers market to save money on organics.
  2. The nutrition. There is no evidence to say that organic fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients than their conventional counterparts. So if it’s nutrition you are concerned about, just eating your daily recommended 10 servings of fruits and veggies is the goal.
  3. The health risks. Though it would seem like ingesting a bunch of chemicals would be harmful to your health, there is no hard evidence that the amount of pesticide residue left on your food is harmful to the body. That being said, if you are one that tries to be all natural, go for organic.
  4. The quality. Organic produce may spoil sooner than conventional produce because it is not treated with preservatives and conventional produce may come in odd shapes and inconsistent colors, but all in all, they should taste the same.
  5. The environment. Organic farming keeps the environment in mind by conserving water and soil as well as cutting down on pollution.

So hopefully keeping these things in mind, you will be able to stroll the isle of your grocery store or farmer’s market with produce picking confidence.

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