Dear Leah Renee,
How does eating organic, compared to regular produce, help my body? What is the difference and is either one really better or worse for me?
I believe, like anything in our diets, it’s best to prioritize our purchasing and eating habits to best suit our preferences and pocketbooks. I think it’s safe to say none of us can eat a perfectly clean, healthy diet 100% of the time. We may not always have access to organic produce and products 100% of the time either, so it’s beneficial to discern which of those may be the ‘dirtiest’ and ‘cleanest’ of the lot.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) produced (no pun intended) a quick reference guide of fruits and vegetables of most commonly consumed items with the most and least amount of chemicals. Print this guide out and keep it handy when you’re grocery shopping.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to feel a little intimidated by all the terms and labels seen at the grocery store, it can get frustrating and confusing what’s what that we’re putting in our shopping card. Labels like “USDA Organic” to “Locally Grown” and “Fair Trade” can get lost in translation. “USDA Organic” means the product does not contain or been treated with with hormones, antibiotics, genetic engineering, radiation, synthetic pesticides, or fertilizers. “Locally Grown” is just that—we are purchasing commodities which were grown regionally versus imported from another country (such as apples from New Zealand) where many nutrients are lost in transit. Unfortunately, there is not a defined distance how local our “locally grown” produce is, and it also not mean we are still not necessarily buying pesticide free. “Fair Trade” is a movement which strives for fair treatment for farmers. In a fair trade agreement, farmers will negotiate with the purchasers in order to receive a fair price for their products. Farmers who engage in fair trade also aim to pay their workers a fair price, and engage in environmentally–friendly practices.
As far as better or worse: Organic vs. Non-Organic, there is a great deal of debate on this topic and has been for years. You can find more info on my more in-depth post here. Studies have been done in the past proving organic is healthier for us and provides greater nutritional and higher antioxidant value to our bodies, and there are theories against it. I lean toward organic is better. Anything as far as I’m concerned that is the least adulterated makes for a purer and healthier product.
In addition to health benefits of organic produce, organic agriculture also requires less water and emits less carbon dioxide than industrial farming. Studies have shown organic farming uses 70 percent less energy achieved by recycling nutrients and using natural ecological balances to solve pest problems. So if sustainability and conservation are also factors for you, organic may be the better option.
Finally, probably one of the most important tips for finding fresh, great-tasting produce is to buy in season, when possible. Here is a little guide as to which ones are at their best seasonally:
You’re already doing something right to be concerned about whether eating organically is the right choice to make; it means you’re eating your fruits and veggies which is a step in the right direction to eating healthfully. We can gather what we think is the best information possible to guide us in making decisions at the grocery store to best nourish our bodies and reap the most amount of nutrients possible…. and ultimately, choose what’s best for you!