Is Organic Better?

Not a day goes by that I don’t see an article arguing for or against organic foods. Most of what I’ve seen treats the opposition as silly and uninformed and makes little to no effort to address legitimate concerns about the quality of produce we’re consuming. So let’s talk about it.

Organic food is the fastest growing line of business in the food industry. Why? Because people are legitimately concerned about the effects of pesticides on their bodies, and their fear is justified.

Let me be perfectly clear… Pesticides are NOT good for you.

You have a right to be concerned. Consuming pesticides increases your risk of cancer and chronic illness. What pesticides are used, whether or not the fruit/vegetable is directly sprayed, and how much pesticide is used are all important factors is how healthy produce is.

That being said, organics aren’t necessarily the answer, because organic produce could be coming from overseas where produce isn’t as stringently checked or monitored, and because organic growers can still use pesticides. Did you know that most organic produce still tests positive for pesticides?

So what is the answer? As with most things, knowledge is power. Local, in-season produce is your best choice. When you by from local farmers, most of them are there to talk to you when you’re buying and are usually happy to let you visit their farm and see how they grow. Like the rest of us, when they’re proud of their work, they like to talk about it!

Many small, local farms are not certified organic but still using traditional farming methods like crop rotation and integrated pest management (IPM), which uses pesticide only when absolutely necessary and does not directly spray produce. The most important thing, though, is that you can KNOW where your produce comes from and how it’s treated.

Also, prioritize the “Dirty Dozen” :

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Pears

  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Potatoes

These are the produce items that tested as the most contaminated in the grocery store. Try to buy these items locally and only in season. You are most likely to get contaminated produce when it’s shipped from overseas to meet out-of-season market demands.

Another great option–if you don’t have a black thumb like mine–is to try growing your own. A lot of parents ask how to get kids to eat healthy, and one suggestion is to let kids start a garden. You would be surprised how ready a child is to eat spinach s/he grew him/herself!!!

As with most food, it’s important to know what you’re getting, and a government-regulated label just doesn’t cut it. It never will. The closer you can get to the source the more you’ll know about what you’re eating, and the better chance you have of making sure it’s free of unnecessary chemicals.

Happy Eating!

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