Should you buy organic or non-organic food is the question probably everyone asks when trying to follow a healthy lifestyle. Is organic food better, or is it just a gimmick groceries store use to sell you the same apples for double the price? Are you in trouble if you are trying to follow a healthy and balanced diet but you cannot afford $3 per broccoli crown?
What is Organic Food
Organic food is produced using natural methods that promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. This includes using natural fertilizers, such as compost and manure, and relying on natural pest control methods like crop rotation and companion planting. Organic farmers also avoid using synthetic pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and growth hormones. Because farmers are more limited in how they protect their crops or livestock, they suffer greater losses from disease, leading to higher grocery store costs.
Non-organic food, on the other hand, is produced using conventional farming methods that rely heavily on synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Non-organic farmers also use antibiotics and growth hormones to promote faster growth and prevent disease in their livestock.
Does that mean I must buy organic to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
The answer to that depends on your budget. First and foremost, remember that eating a vegetable or fruit benefits you regardless of whether it comes from an organic or non-organic source. The nutrients provided to us by eating whole, natural foods are far more beneficial. If you are on a budget, buy non-organic, and don’t lose sleep over it. You are already doing great by making wiser choices, buying fruits and meat versus processed food.
However, if you have some wiggle room in your bank account, here is a list of ingredients you should try buying organic when possible.
Try to buy organic:
- Berries: Berries are heavily sprayed with pesticides to prevent pests from eating them. This means that conventionally grown berries often contain high levels of pesticide residues, which can be harmful to your health. Buying organic berries ensures that you’re getting a product that is free from harmful chemicals.
- Leafy Greens: Lettuce, kale, spinach, and other leafy greens are also heavily sprayed with pesticides. These pesticides can be particularly harmful to children and pregnant women. Buying organic leafy greens ensures that you’re getting a product that is free from harmful chemicals.
- Meat and Dairy: Conventionally raised animals are often given antibiotics and growth hormones to promote faster growth and prevent disease. These chemicals can harm your health and contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Buying organic meat and dairy ensures you get a free product from these harmful substances.
Note: recently, groceries stores have been selling some great antibiotic-free non-organic options. You can avoid the expense of organic meat by looking for these.
- Apples: Apples are one of the most heavily sprayed fruits. Conventionally grown apples can contain up to 45 pesticides, including several known carcinogens. Buying organic apples ensures that you get a product free from harmful chemicals.
- Grapes: Grapes are another heavily sprayed fruit. Conventionally grown grapes can contain high levels of pesticide residues, which can harm your health. Buying organic grapes ensures that you’re getting a product that is free from harmful chemicals.
When do you buy non-organic
So, when is it okay to sacrifice organic for non-organic, more affordable options? In these cases, you can make an informed decision based on the “Clean Fifteen” list by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). This list identifies the fruits and vegetables least likely to contain pesticide residues. These are also some of the more expensive produce (at least in the US), but you can still find some that are affordable.
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Honeydew melon
Organic food is a great choice for those concerned about their health and the environment. While it may be more expensive and sometimes harder to find, organic produce is grown without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and other harmful chemicals. However, if you can’t always find or afford organic options, it’s important to remember that conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are still healthy and can be part of a balanced diet.
Ultimately, the best way to ensure that your food is healthy and safe is to choose a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Whether organic or non-organic, the most important thing is ensuring you’re getting enough nutrients to support a healthy lifestyle. And if you’re concerned about pesticide exposure, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk, such as washing produce thoroughly and choosing fruits and vegetables that are known to have lower levels of pesticides.
In conclusion, choosing between organic and non-organic food can be difficult. It’s important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each and make a decision based on your own values, budget, and lifestyle. Whatever you choose, remember that eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is the most important thing you can do for your health.