Is It Worth the Extra Money to Get Organic Food?

This article is going to help you save money and eat organic when necessary!  There is always a lot of talk about whether we should buy organic at a higher price or save money and buy non-organic groceries. Why spend extra when you can save on regularly cropped foods?

Well, you don’t have to buy all organic.  Although I highly recommend you do if you can.

The good news is that we have advocates and one of the biggest is the Environmental Working Group.  The Environmental Working Group is an independent, non-profit organization who’s mission is to “use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.” They use research to bring to light public health concerns such as pesticides on our crops and the damage it can do to our bodies.

The Dirty Dozen

Many of us don’t know what we should buy organic and what we can buy non-organic, so the EWG compiled a list of foods that are safe to eat non-organic and a list of foods that need to be bought organic based on pesticide levels. They call this list The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15.

The Dirty Dozen consists of foods most highly contaminated by pesticides, so you will want to buy these organic.  Highlighted facts include:

  • Every sample of imported nectarines tested positive for pesticides, followed by apples (98 percent) and imported plums (96 percent)
  • As a category, grapes have more types of pesticides than any other produce, with 64 different pesticides.
  • A single bell pepper sample was contaminated with 15 different pesticides, followed by a single sample of celery with 13.

At the top of the list are apples, celery and bell peppers.  They even added two more foods to the list because pollutants have gotten so bad recently.  Kale/greens and green beans have made it to the list because they are contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. These insecticides are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade. But they are not banned and still show up on some food crops.

The Clean 15

The Clean 15 are the top foods that are least likely to test positive for pesticides.  Therefore, you can buy these foods non-organic.  Some highlighted facts:

  • No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen had more than 5 types of pesticides detected.
  • Avocado, sweet corn, and onions had no detectable pesticide residues on 98 percent or more of the samples tested.
  • Of the Clean Fifteen vegetables, no single sample had more than 5 different chemicals

The EWG has a PDF file of the list that you can download, an app for your phone, and a complete guide online at their website.

There is a huge nutritional difference between organic and non-organic crops because of soil, pesticides, and quality.  Many people wonder if we need to supplement our diet with vitamins and minerals even if we eat a nutritionally balanced diet.  Stay tuned for a future article discussing the differences and why taking supplements can make you healthier.

 

References:

http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_food

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