If you regularly buy groceries, you’ve likely scanned the packaging of a product in search for the words “natural” or “organic” to ensure that you are making a health-conscious decision. The higher price tag is a bit deterring, but you are willing to pay the extra cost for the benefit of your health. But, do you know what exactly the word “organic” mean?
Different countries and regions have various regulations for organic products. In the United States, USDA certified organic foods are produced with natural substances and free of most synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Organic farms may use natural-derived pesticides, but they are less likely to affect your health than their synthetic counterparts.
A diet consisting of organic food presents clear health benefits, especially a reduced exposure to pesticides. A 2018 study reveals that an organic diet significantly reduces urinary pesticide levels in U.S. children and adults. According to other studies, organic food “provide significantly greater levels of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus than non-organic varieties of the same foods.” In addition, they are also significantly lower in nitrates, which are artery-damaging compounds.
Organic foods certainly have their benefits, but are they enough to justify the higher markup? The higher price tag of organic food is a real concern. They are 47% more expensive and the markup can go as high as 300%. Within budget limit, it is advisable to purchase organic food. That been said, certain fruits and vegetables generally have much lower traces of pesticides, and it does not make much difference to eat the organic or non-organic variety. It is not worth buying the pricier organic variety of such produce, including avocados, pineapples, onions, papayas and more. Check out what produce items are on the dirty dozen list and which ones are part of the clean fifteen list, for more information in deciding which produce items are worth buying organic and which are not.
It is worth mentioning that organic food is not the sole indicator of a healthy diet. Your overall diet composition is as important to your health. To illustrate, having a balanced meal of non-organic ingredients is better than eating a whole organic cake. In other words, organic is not necessarily synonymous with health if other factors aren’t considered.
Written by Kelly Jean, Class of 2022
Photo by Mockup Graphics on Unsplash