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What makes something organic?
*Any produce that has been grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers.
*Meat/dairy products that come from animals raised without the use of antibiotics, growth hormones, excessive antibiotics, or other drugs.
In order to mass-produce food quickly and cheaply, chemicals like pesticides and herbicides were created to extend the life of the fruits and vegetables and to make sure that animals and insects don’t attack them, as well as to avoid mold from growing on them.
1. It’s expensive.
Fact: Many discount super chains like Walmart are slashing the markup to 10 percent versus the usual 20-30 percent. Also, if you don’t switch over everything but only some things, then the cost will not be felt as much.
2. If I make the switch, it’s all or none.
Fact: Even switching a few items is helpful, we will talk about which are more worth it soon. Do make sure to keep organic and non-organic produce separately though because if they touch, pesticide residue can transfer if the produce was sprayed.
3. It doesn’t matter, I eat healthy anyway.
Fact: If you believe you’re eating healthy because you’re having fruits and vegetables, that actually may be counterproductive since those are full of chemicals so you’re actually doing more harm than good if they are not organic.
4. You don’t have to wash organic produce.
Fact: Organic produce is very likely to get E. coli and bacteria on it, specifically melons, lettuce, spinach, and onion since they grow close to the ground. You must wash them thoroughly under running water.
5. If a product says organic ingredients or is made with organic products, that’s good enough.
Fact: No, that’s deceiving. It should say USDA certified, 100 percent organic.
6. If it’s organic, it has zero herbicides or pesticides.
Fact: It can still have some, especially if it doesn’t say 100 percent organic. It could be something that’s in the water and is used to irrigate the crop. It can also be a waft from a nearby field or smokestacks.
7. If I “go organic” I won’t be able to eat my regular favorites.
Fact: Many companies, like Kellogg’s and Kraft are making versions of their popular foods in organic form. Nowadays, you can get almost anything you love in an organic version.
8. Chips and cookies are better and healthier for me if they’re organic
Fact: Cane sugar is still sugar and fried chips are still fried so no justifications there.
9. Beverages don’t need to be organic.
Fact: Be aware of tea. When it is steeped in water, pesticides resided on the leaves and can be transferred.
What’s worth it and what’s not:
Like I said, not everything needs to be switched to organic but here is some information on each category to help you decide:
Dairy/eggs: This category may be worth the switch because if the animals are given hormones and antibiotics, these compounds will be transferred to the milk and eggs.
Seafood: It may not be so worth it because there are no set organic standards so it can contain mercury or other contaminants.
Fruits and vegetables: Very worth the switch with specific ones (see the dirty dozen and the clean 15 lists). Produce retains pesticide residue even after being washed, specifically thin-skinned fruits and vegetables or those that can’t be peeled.
Meat/poultry/dairy: Animals are fed organic feed and can not be given antibiotics or growth hormones. However, they can be given vitamin and mineral supplements.
The dirty dozen versus the clean 15
Dirty dozen (most contaminated produce)
Peaches, Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines Strawberries, Cherries, Pears, Grapes, Spinach, Lettuce, and Potatoes.
The clean 15 (least contaminated produce) Avocado, Sweet Corn, Pineapple, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Frozen Sweet Peas, Onion, Asparagus, Mango, Cauliflower, Papaya, Kiwi, Eggplant, Grapefruit, and Sweet Potato.
Why does it cost more money?
No pesticides or chemicals means that a farmer has to work harder and therefore prices go up 25-100 percent more in cost.
Benefits of eating organic food:
Good nutrition increases the production of cancer-fighting elements. According to the EPC (environmental protection agency), 60 percent of herbicides and 30 percent of insecticides in non-organic food are potentially cancer-causing.
*Organic produce contains higher levels of vitamin c, iron, calcium, and magnesium, as compared to traditionally grown foods.
*Organic food has 50 percent more vitamin c, minerals, and nutrients than non-organic food.
*Organic tomatoes have more vitamin c than non-organic.
*Organic strawberries and organic corn have more cancer-fighting flavonoids than non-organic.
*Organic foods are free of neurotoxins which are toxins that are damaging to the brain and nerve cells. Note: Children’s growing brains and bodies are far more susceptible to toxins than adults.
Scary facts: 18 percent of all genetically modified seeds (and therefore food that grows from them) are engineered to produce their own pesticides, which means that once you eat them, they continue to produce pesticides inside your body.
One apple could potentially have more than 25 chemicals even if washed well.
So, what’s the bottom line?
You don’t need to toss out all your non-organic foods, nor do you need to completely change your shopping list. Just remember to look out for the important labels in order to make the best decisions for you and your family.