Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Organic Food vs. Your Grocery Bill

I was reading my friend Tina's blog at http://thewellnesswar.blogspot.com/ yesterday about the dilemma of buying organic vs. non-organic and balancing your food budget. I'm so glad someone brought this up! I've often agonized in the grocery store over the price of organic vs. non-organic and feel guilty when the price tag wins out. Its just that feeding a family of four, especially a picky family of four, can get so outrageously expensive!

I did some research on the subject and found this article from Eating Well, Organic—or Not? Is Organic Produce Healthier Than Conventional?. It basically said that that are two valid reasons for buying organic which are 1. to increase nutrients and 2. to consume less pesticides.

Lets start with the nutrient part. A study from 2007 showed that there were some nutrients(vitamin C, iron, and zinc) which were found to be 40% higher in organic foods. However, you can also increase your nutrients just by buying locally grown foods. It is common sense, the less a food travels, the less nutrients lost in the travel process. I happen to think that you are still doing great just by simply buying nutrient rich fruits and vegetables, lean meats/dairy, and whole wheat grains(organic or not). It also has a lot to do with how a food is stored and prepared. I've never been a purist when it comes to organic.

On the topic of pesticides... this is what I took from the article. There are trace amounts of residue from pesticides which are absorbed into fruits and vegetables. Some of the residue can be removed by washing the fruit. A large amount of the residue can be removed by taking off the skins or peals(but then you lose out on the fiber- it's a trade off). Most of us do not develop cancer and other fatal illnesses from these trace amounts of residue. However, in kids, the residue can build up more in their little bodies. So, naturally it makes sense to be concerned more about your kids when it comes to organic vs. non-organic.

So if you are independently wealthy and can afford to buy all organic, all the time for your family than great! I recommend it. However if you have to balance health and wealth a bit, then check this out... This organization, The Environmetal Working Group(EWG), pored over 51,000 tests on pesticides in foods from the FDA and USDA and found out that some foods absorb more of these trace contaminants than others. EWG came out with a sort of "dirty dozen" list. These are foods which you should probably try to buy organic most often. The article also listed the produce which is not so concerning. I will just list the "dirty dozen" below. Hope this helps make your organic shopping less perplexing and your wallets a little heavier.

Foods with Highest Amounts of Contaminants from Pesticides:

  1. celery

  2. peaches

  3. strawberries

  4. apples

  5. blueberries

  6. bellpepper

  7. spinach

  8. kale

  9. nectarines

  10. cherries

  11. potatoes

  12. grapes(imported)

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