Only crazy people buy organic, right?
When I first saw a person filling their cart with overpriced, organic produce at the health food store, I thought they were crazy. Years later, that crazy person and I became friends and I became the crazy person filling my cart with organic produce. So what changed in my understanding between then and now that made me want to spend my hard earned money on organics?
Reasons to choose organic
Why, when studies have shown that organic and conventional foods have similar levels of of nutrients, would I be willing to dish out the extra dough? The reasons are many. Below is a brief look at some of the reasons to choose organic over conventionally produced foods:
- studies have shown that organic produce contains considerably more antioxidants
- organically grown foods better maintain the integrity of the soil and the diversity of microorganisms. These microorganism maintain the soils healthy ecosystem and make nutrients in the soil bio-available to the plants, making healthy more diseases resistant plants. The plants then pass the nutrients on to us when we eat them. Conventional practices destroy this ecosystem.
- Pesticides are used in the production of conventional fruit, vegetables, wheat, corn, grain products and livestock feed.
- Pesticides bio-accumulate up the food chain in animal products such as dairy, eggs, meat and fish.
- Pesticides have toxic effects on the body linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive issues and damage to unborn children.
- Pesticides are antibiotic in nature and disrupt our gut microbiome, leading to inflammation and physical and mental ailments.
- Conventional agricultural practices can cause toxic run off from fields, contaminating water ways and wildlife.
- According to the Environmental Working Group, conventional produce most heavily laden with pesticides include: strawberries, apples, grapes, peaches, nectarines, celery, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. But it is the potato that boasts most pesticides by weight than any other produce.
- Illegal pesticide residues are three times as likely to be found in imported produce. Notice where your produce is coming from.
Do we always need to choose organic?
Other options are available to us other than just having to buy everything certified organic. Some of these options include:
- harvest wild edibles
- grow your own garden
- buy from a local farmers’ market where produce may not be officially organic but comes from a local “pesticide free” or “no spray” farm.
- wash all your produce thoroughly in a sink of water and hydrogen peroxide to pull pesticides and pathogens off the surface. (Note this is only a surface treatment.)
- Peel produce to reduce surface contamination (although much of a fruit or vegetables nutrients and antioxidants are in the peel).
- Vary your intake of different produce and sources.
- When buying conventionally produced fruits an vegetables, stick to the Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen including: avocados, [non-GMO] sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, [non-GMO papayas], kiwis, eggplant, honeydew melon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and cauliflower. Of these, avocados were the cleanest.