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The Truth Behind Organic Produce

December 20, 2010

The following post was written by nutritioulicious™ intern Megan Kian

Shopping basket in hand, strolling down the aisles of a supermarket can be somewhat of a daunting experience. With so much in the news about the benefits of organic products, how do we know what we should really be putting into our bodies? And for that matter, what constitutes organic?

Many of the current consumers are switching to organic, but does being organic really mean it’s better for you? When you bite into a juicy, crisp organic apple, several things are missing in comparison to its conventional counterpart: pesticides, hormones, and artificial fertilizers.

So maybe organic produce is cleaner and safer, but does organic necessarily translate into greater nutritional value? As Jessica previously explained, organic food does not appear to have more nutrients or to have more health benefits than conventional produce. However, even if organic produce proves to be healthier, not everyone can afford the higher price tag that comes with it. This is where the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides comes in handy. The guide includes the most up-to-date version of the Dirty Dozen, a list of twelve vegetables and fruit that should be bought organic if possible, and the Clean 15, a list of fifteen vegetables and fruit that are lowest in pesticides. It is also suggested that vegetables and fruit that contain edible or thin skins be bought organic, in order to cut down on the amount of pesticides that you may be ingesting. It’s best to take the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists with you to the supermarket so that you can make educated decisions and spend your money wisely.

And for the produce that you do buy organic, how can you tell whether it really is organic? Since fruit and vegetables are single ingredient foods, all you have to do is look for a certified organic seal from the USDA (usually a small sticker on the produce). (When it comes to food that contains multiple ingredients, the organic lingo becomes more complicated. I’ll explain that in tomorrow’s post).

To buy organic, or not to buy organic? What do you think?

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  1. It is great to have choice. As a mother,consumer,and dairy farmer I do not feel any necessity to buy any product labeled organic. I have complete confidence in food produced by American farmers.