The Sooner You Know When to Buy Organics, the Better
You already know that organic foods are good for the environment and good for your health. You probably also know about their steep price tag and limited availability. So, are they worth it?
The answer: It depends. Despite several scientific studies investigating whether organic produce is more nutritious than conventional produce, results are inconclusive. That being said, even if that organic apple won’t give you any extra fiber or antioxidants, it has a separate set of benefits that are worth considering when you’re standing in the grocery store.
The Pros of Organics
Rather than using pesticides, herbicides, GMOs, or harsh chemicals in the growing process, organic farmers expend considerable effort in producing crops through natural, environmentally sound practices. That means organically grown foods are kinder to the planet and to the health of all plants and animals. Although the Food and Drug Administration classifies all conventionally grown foods as safe for human consumption, pesticide residue from such foods has been associated with higher risk of conditions such as cancer and compromised immunity.
Organic standards also ensure better animal welfare practices for organic livestock. Animals that are raised organically eat organic feed, have access to the outdoors and are never injected with hormones or antibiotics.
When to Buy Organic
Despite all the benefits of organic food, budgetary constraints might put a cap on your spending. Since organic farms are typically smaller with limited crop yields, and have higher production and certification costs, organic foods are often more expensive. If you are trying to be selective about when to buy organic produce, consider the thickness of the skin as a guideline. Some produce – such as bananas or onions – have naturally thicker skins that act as protective packaging that makes it much tougher for chemical residue to end up on its edible parts.
So if you can’t buy all organic, all the time, here are the products that really call for the splurge, according to the Environmental Working Group:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Snap peas
- Collard greens
And here are the products that are least likely to hold pesticide residue:
- Sweet potatoes
The Bottom Line
There are many fantastic advantages to organic food, but don’t feel guilty if you can’t afford it, or if passing it up means buying a greater variety of conventional produce – Conventional produce is still full of nutrients and health benefits!
Since most Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, the most important thing to keep in mind when shopping is to fill your cart with a variety of nutrient-rich fresh, natural foods. Buy organic when you can, but don’t sweat it when you can’t.