Friday, May 29, 2009

When to buy organic and when to let it slide

Since I've been focusing more on expanding my nutrition & healthy kitchens business, a lot of people ask me when it is necessary to buy organic foods and when its not. With our economy in a slump, organic foods are not always cheap, but in the long run they are 110% better for your health. You see, in most other countries, the food industry has set higher standers in what products they allow in the grocery stores. Anything unsafe (i.e. pesticides, chemically enhanced foods, etc.) are not allowed. Therefore almost everything is fresh and organic. In our lovely country (not to bash) the FDA lets the ingredient list slip by so that it has a longer shelf life and is then cheaper for us to buy. Oh yea, gimme some of that! (said sarcastically). Here is a great article that explains just how to save money while shopping for the best produce and other fresh foods!

There are many reasons to buy organic foods. The USDA Organic label tells you that fruits and veggies weren't raised using manmade chemical pesticides, fossil fuel- or sewage-based fertilizers or genetically modified seeds. On meat, the label indicates that the feeds provided met those same standards, and that the animals weren't administered hormones and antibiotics. Bottom line: "Organic" is more sustainable and healthier -- for the environment and farm workers, certainly, and often for you and your family.

How is organic healthier? It's healthier because some studies suggest that organic produce has more nutrients than its conventional counterparts, probably because the soil is left in better condition after repeated plantings; and healthier because you avoid ingesting any harmful pesticide residues left on conventional produce.

But, particularly as the economy sags and millions of Americans lose their jobs, it can be hard to afford the often-premium price charged for organic foods. That's why we've published this updated list, based on Environmental Working Group's latest compilation of government data about pesticide residue.

The fruits and vegetables on this list were the least likely to have pesticides detected on the parts you eat, after typical washing, whether or not they're certified organic. (Remember, though, that the farmworkers and the farm soil, will thank you for any organic purchases you can make.)

1. Onions
2. Avocado
3. pineapple
4. sweet corn
5. mango
6. asparagus
7. sweet peas
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. eggplant
11. papaya
12. watermelon
13. broccoli
14. tomatoes
15. sweet potato

For a list of the foods most likely to be contaminated, see The Daily Green's feature Dirty Dozen: 12 Foods To Buy Organic.

Have a great weekend and go to your local farmers market- SUPPORT!!



IronBob said...

Great post.
American society tends to "blow off" stuff like Organic foods because they dont see immediate benefits or harm so "why do it?"

I must say that I fall into that category but at least I am beginning to investigate the benefits so maybe I can set a good example for my boys. (Maybe in the near future)

Thanks for the post.

~beest said...

This is really helpful, Lindsay, thanks! I have just discovered a new local produce delivery - where you place your order for fresh, locally grown organic produce and they deliver it to your door. They deliver to Austin on Thursdays. My first delivery is this week - I'll let you know how it goes.

VeganCowboy said...

I am suspect of organic foods. Not so much that I don't think that they are better for you, the certainly are. I think the USDA has allowed the term to be a bit watered down and it really does start to lose its meaning. Michael Pollen has done a great job discussing what organic means and doesn't in this country. In short if it is a complete food and certified organic then it is probably a safe bet, but WholeFoods does sell T.V dinners that are labeled organic that a bit on the suspect side. Anyway, great post. Cheers.

Mason Arnold said...

Also check out for local & organic groceries delivered. We also have some non-local, certified organic food to offer a full selection of the grocery store, but being local whenever possible.

USDA rules for unprocessed produce have not been changed since inception in 2002 and are very strong and protective. Processed food and non-food items still have many gray areas and you should be sure to investigate yourself.