What's the deal with organic?
Updated: Jul 14
Welcome to week 3 of National Nutrition month! We’re talking about why we prefer to buy organic food and how to afford it on a budget!
What does organic actually mean?
Let’s start off with what is required to have a USDA Organic label on a product. If it’s produce the crop has to be farmed with no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, no sewage sludge as fertilizer or genetic engineering to improve disease resistance or pest resistance. In order for livestock to qualify as organic it must be raised without hormones or antibiotics, fed organic food and allowed adequate access to the outdoors. What’s the difference between organic and natural? The only requirement for natural printed on the label is that there are no added artificial colors, flavors or additives. That leaves a lot of grey area for how the produce is grown and the livestock is raised.
Why should I eat organic?
As you read above, conventional produce and livestock are exposed to toxins in order to grow and thrive. When you continually ingest these toxins it can build up in your body. It has also been shown that some organic produce has higher antioxidants, polyphenols (micronutrients) and flavonoids. A study has also shown some organic fruits and vegetables contains less cadmium (a metal that is carcinogenic in humans) levels.
I thought eating organic was expensive?
A very common assumption is that eating organic is too expensive but we’re here to give you a few tips to keep your grocery bill low!
Check out the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list on the Environmental Working Group website. They annually update this list with the twelve foods that are the most exposed to pesticides and fertilizers that year. Be sure to buy those 12 specifically organic. You can be more lenient on other produce if the budget is tight.
Eat with the season. Stick to produce that is grown in the season you are in. For example in the fall pumpkin, squash, brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. If you’ve ever tried to buy strawberries out of season you know how expensive they can be ;)
Produce with a hardy outer layer are less susceptible to the pesticides sprayed on them. So onions, avocados, etc. are generally safer to eat conventionally than other produce.
If organic is truly not an option, try to eat a wide variety of conventional produce/meat. This helps you to not be exposed to a specific pesticide continually.
Check out imperfectfoods.com! They offer a wide variety of organic options for less. They send you either what grocery stores won't accept due to the ‘cosmetic looks’ of it (too small, too large, looks funny) or there was a surplus of the produce and the farmer cannot sell it. Imperfect Foods is able to sell it at a lower price and it also reduces food waste!
If you have to buy conventionally, wash and peel the produce to get rid of the most exposed parts of the produce.
Reach out if you have any questions about eating organic!