It happens every time you go to the grocery store and peruse the produce section. You stop in front of two bins of apples, one of them marked “organic”, and you wonder does it really matter? The answer is yes and no. Anytime you eat non-organic fruits and vegetables, you are risking ingesting small amounts of pesticides that were used on the food during growth. While eating 100% organic is a great thing to do, it’s not always realistic for families on a budget. Organic food does tend to be a bit more expensive, so thankfully the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases an annual statement about which fruits and veggies are the most important to eat organic, based on studies showing pesticide levels found in them per year.
14 most contaminated foods according to EWG:
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Hot Peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Kale/Collard Greens
- Summer Squash
15 least contaminated foods according to EWG:
- Sweet corn (only frozen- also remember you are risking GMO corn if you don’t buy organic)
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Sweet potatoes
So, what are the benefits of eating organic? Here are a few:
- Organic foods, especially raw or non-processed, contain higher levels of beta carotene, vitamins C, D and E, health-promoting polyphenols, cancer-fighting antioxidants, flavonoids that help ward off heart disease, essential fatty acids, and essential minerals.
- Levels of antioxidants in milk from organic cattle are between 50% and 80% higher than normal milk. Organic wheat, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, onions and lettuce have between 20% and 40% more nutrients than non-organic foods.
- Organic food contains qualitatively higher levels of essential minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, iron and chromium), that are severely depleted in chemical foods grown on pesticide and nitrate fertilizer-abused soil.
- Organic food isn’t genetically modified. Under organic standards, genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are prohibited.
- Organic animals aren’t given drugs. Organic farming standards prohibit the use of antibiotics, growth hormones and genetically modified vaccines in farm animals. *source
Again, while it’s important to try and eat some of your veggies from the organic section, the EWG says eating non-organic fruits and vegetables is better than eating none at all! Also, remember that organic does not always mean more expensive. If you stay on top of sale items at your grocery store (or shop at the farmer’s market), you may end up not spending more than you would on non-organic items.
By Courtney Perry