An Organic Approach To Buying Vegetables
Purchasing organic foods costs at least 10% more than purchasing non-organic foods. The organic foods usually taste a lot better, are certified to have fewer pesticides, and are more likely to be locally sourced, but is the extra cost really worth it? In some cases, yes.
There are some fruits and vegetables which retain a high volume of pesticides and other malevolent chemicals even after they have been washed. These pesticides have been linked to in-vitro damage to fetuses and estrogenic effects in humans. While the increased level of pesticides within the body is seen to be somewhat benign, the overall opinion is that having more chemicals is not beneficial. The solution is to turn to organic foods.
What is does the term organic mean?
Produce grown organically is grown without synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, pesticides and radiation. The seeds have not been genetically modified to induce growth. Organic meats are subject to four standards, including the lack of pesticides and adequate grazing space. Those farmers who put organic food on your table are concerned with developing more sustainable methods of growing food, and fitting their farms more naturally within the local environment.
Why does organic cost more?
- Organic farming is more management and labor intensive.
- Organic farms are usually smaller, and do not receive benefits from the economy of scale.
- Organic farmers receive no federal subsidies, because of their size.
- Organic food is reflective of the true price of growing.
Advantages of Organic Foods:
Tastes Better – While matters of taste are purely subjective, chefs are realizing the advantages of using locally sourced organic food within their cooking. These foods are more diverse and more in tune with local environmental needs. With the lack of pesticides, these chefs are also providing healthier meals to their patrons.
Locally Sourced – Because organic foods have not been treated with pesticides and growth-inducing chemicals, they also tend to be more fragile for transport. As a result, much of the organic food which is shipped to grocery stores is transported from a closer location, often within 100 miles. This food is often shipped soon after it is picked, rather than spending days inside of a shipping container.
More Nutrients – The Nutrition Research Center performed a comprehensive meta-study on whether organic foods have more nutrients than their non-organic counterparts. It was shown that the organic foods were 75% more nutrient dense than non-organic foods.
What organic foods should you purchase?
Fruits and vegetables with with thin skin:
Pesticides are absorbed through the skin of fruits and vegetables, potentially affecting the chemical makeup of that food. Foods to watch are strawberries, peaches, and blueberries, as these are eaten without peeling.
Leafy greens like collard greens and kale are especially difficult to clean, and pesticides may remain after even the most thorough of washings.
There are four criteria used for certifying milk as organic: the cows must be free of bovine growth hormone, the cows must not be exposed to pesticides, they must not have antibiotics in their system, and must also be given adequate grazing time. Negative effects can be seen when bovine growth hormone is ingested in humans.
According to the Environmental Working Group, the highest amount of pesticides can be found in these foods, and organic options should be explored.
- Nectarines – Imported
- Grapes – Imported
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Blueberries – Domestic
- Kale / Collard Greens
In that same study, the fruits and vegetables with the least amount of pesticides are:
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas
- Sweet Peas
While there are many reasons to purchase organic foods that are not related to your health, it is not necessary to purchase organic in every case. Milk, leafy greens, and thin skinned fruits and vegetables should be purchased organic, but those fruits and vegetables which are peeled before use are generally safe as the chemical-laden peels are removed..