When to Buy Organic
Organic milk, organic beer, organic produce and organic oreos? What? Is organic just another buzzword or should we be careful of what we are pulling off the shelves? Food giants across the globe slap the word “organic” on almost everything now and most consumers relate that to eating “healthy.” I believe it needs some context, so I hope to shed some light on the debate of organic vs. non-organic food.
First of all, organic junk food is still just that; JUNK FOOD. Organic chips, snack packs or any other packaged products are most likely still crap and not good for you. Just because the ingredients are listed as organic doesn’t mean that they are any more healthy or nutritious for you. Most processed foods are detrimental to your health and putting the word “organic” on it doesn’t change anything about the product except make it more expensive.
Organic labeling standards in the Unites States have been set by the National Organic Program and are enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The organic label on any product means that at least 95% of the ingredients are organically produced. These products are manufactured using methods approved by the NOP and must not use any sewage sludge or ionizing radiation in production. I definitely wouldn’t want sewage sludge in my food. Yuk!
When purchasing animal products organic means that the animal has received no antibiotics or hormones and was fed organic products, which contain no other animal by-products. The animal should also have been cage free or free range; meaning they have access to the outdoors. Organically grown produce must be grown without the use of synthetic chemicals as pesticides and may not contain and genetically modified organisms. Because there is more regulation for organically produced foods there is of course an extra cost. We end up paying about 20% or more for organic products. Is it really worth it?
When it comes to fresh produce and meat, I believe buying organic is absolutely worth it! Check it out; The Environmental Working Group has singled out produce with the highest pesticide loads for what it calls it’s Dirty Dozen list. For 2016 this list includes strawberries, apples, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. Each of these foods tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and showed higher concentrations of pesticides that other produce. You should try your best to foot the bill for these items as often as you can.
There are two other types of foods that contain trace levels of highly hazardous pesticides; leafy greens –kale and collard greens- and hot peppers. They do not meet traditional Dirty Dozen ranking criteria but were frequently found to be contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system.
The EWC also publishes another list named the Clean Fifteen. This is a list of produce least likely to hold pesticide residues. This list includes avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, honeydew melon, grapefruit, cantaloupe and cauliflower. You can consider yourself pretty safe when not buying these organic.
The fact is that yes, we can avoid pesticides by eating organic produce. But keep in mind that the Dirty Dozen plus leafy greens and peppers are most important to try and buy organic to eat fewer pesticides. And remember, organic crap is still CRAP! When it comes to anything in a box I typically avoid it all together but I will never choose to buy junk food with the label “organic” on it and think I’m doing anything better for my body. Choose your battles.
I believe that supporting this industry is important for me to continue to enjoy pesticide free produce as well as natural, healthy, hormone free meat. This is definitely a personal decision but I hope this gives you a little more understanding of when you should choose to buy organic products.
If you’d like to learn more about the EWC please click HERE. There is so much great information on their website.
Have a great week!