Is Organic Really Better?

Another study came out this month about the differences between organic and non-organic produce. This British study, concluded that there were significant differences in antioxidant levels (higher in organic) and heavy metals (lower in organic). Other studies over the past few years have found minimal or no significant difference in nutritional levels. However, there is much more to consider than just the specific nutrient content of your food.

Our family buys almost all of our groceries organic. We always choose organic when possible and mostly buy "ingredients" instead of prepared, packaged foods. I absolutely believe there is a difference in organic food, for reasons that go beyond specific nutrient values. 

8 reasons to go organic

  1. Organic foods have less pesticide residue than non-organic foods. Pesticides are linked to a variety of cancers and neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally there is a dose-dependent relationship, making children particularly susceptible to pesticide exposure.
  2. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's) cannot be labeled organic. We choose to avoid GMO's. Unless organic, papaya, corn, zucchini, squash have a good chance of being GMO. 10 Reasons to Avoid GMO's and The Non-GMO Project are great resources.
  3. Organic fruits and vegetables taste better! Really - it's true. Give it a try. 
  4. Organic farming is better for the environment! One of the most concerning is the conventional farming practice of using neonicotinoids which have been shown to be detrimental to the bee population. 
  5. Organic farming is better for the farmers. I choose to support farming practices that do not put farm workers at risk of cancer, autoimmune disease, chronic respiratory issues, and other health concerns. 
  6. Organic operations tend to be smaller farms and sometimes family businesses rather than large corporations.  
  7. If you consume dairy, organic dairy does not allow the use of rBGH/rBST. There are concerns these hormones promote tumor growth and may also have other endocrine disrupting effects. Additionally, cows treated with these types of growth hormones tend to develop mastitis at a much higher rate, necessitating the use of antibiotics. In many farming practices, animals are given prophylactic (preventative) antibiotics for this reason. This continues despite recommendations to reduce antibiotic use in livestock due to increasing resistance as well as other unknown long term effects on humans. This practice is banned in Canada, Australia, Japan, and the 25 countries in the European Union.  Read more.
  8. YOU are voting with your dollars!  Consider this when you shop for groceries. You can choose to support organic, sustainable, ethical business practices. You may even find that you choose to shop entirely different stores. Our family rarely goes to a "big box" food store because we choose to support the kinds of stores we believe in.


Concerned about the Cost?

SO.....What to do if you like all these ideas but budget is an issue? Organic food is almost always more expensive. There are a few exceptions where cost is truly on par with conventionally grown produce (carrots for example).  Check out EWG for "The Dirty Dozen" and "The Clean Fifteen". The list is updated every year. If you can't buy all organic produce, buy as much as you can from the Dirty Dozen list organic or substitute from the Clean Fifteen list when you can. The items change each year. If you're able to, consider spending a little extra on quality food. It's excellent preventative medicine against chronic medical problems. Additionally consider buying single ingredients rather than prepared food when shopping. Less expensive and so much better for you!

Here is another "real food" article that I like. If changing your diet feels too overwhelming for you, I recommend the blog 100 Days of Real Food for a starting point.