When You Can't Afford to Buy Organic
On the whole, I usually don't buy organic fruits and vegetables because of the price. My budget is pretty tight right now as it is, so I look to cut corners wherever possible. It turns out I’m not alone in this strategy, and it may not be such a bad one after all because new research suggests that there may be no real health benefit to organic food.
What's the Big Difference?
A study led by researchers at Stanford University indicates that organic products aren't necessarily any more nutritional than standard varieties, and they’re no less susceptible to contamination from disease-causing microbes like E. coli, either.
These findings are startling, especially because organic foods are grown without man-made pesticides that are known to pose significant health risks to people. These risks include birth defects; damage to the nervous system; disruption of hormones and endocrine systems; respiratory disorders; skin and eye irritations; and various types of cancers.
Organic farmers also use natural-based fertilizers, raise livestock in less-confined spaces, and forego reliance on antibiotics and growth hormones, all of which are reportedly key contributors to a healthier and more nutritious product. As a result of these efforts, consumers of organic produce pay up to twice as much as those who purchase conventional products.
Researchers of the Stanford study, however, claim that the money spent on that additional cost may actually be wasted. Therefore, savvy shoppers should be aware of what they’re really getting when they buy organic.
The Positives of Buying Organic
Despite the findings of this study, many still consider organic products healthier choices than their conventional counterparts. When weighing organic versus non-organic, these points should be considered:
- Organic produce helps reduce the amount of toxic pesticides in your body and also halves your levels of bisphenol A and phthalates, both of which can alter hormone levels.
- Supporting organic farmers reduces the amount of pesticides that enter waterways, where they harm aquatic life and end up in our drinking water supplies.
- Promoting organic growth methods provides habitats for many more animal species than conventional agriculture. Among those animals that benefit are song birds, which thrive on insects found in organic fields.
It is important to realize, however, that not all foods need to be organic, especially when money is a factor. Certain fruits and vegetables, for instance, are known for having very low pesticide residues. These include seasonal favorites like asparagus, avocado, sweet peas, grapefruit, onions, and cabbage. The cleanest fruits and veggies available year-round include onions, sweet corn, pineapple, and mango.
On the other hand, the best foods to buy organic are apples, bell peppers, carrots, celery, and strawberries.
Food Doesn't Have to be Organic to be Safe and Environmentally Friendly
Additional steps you can take to keep pesticides off your plate include always washing and peeling produce, steam cooking leafy greens, and using the frozen organic version when produce you want isn’t available or in season. Moreover, food does not have to be organic to be safe and environmentally friendly.
To keep your family healthy, focus on eating foods grown close to your home, as some organic products come from multinational companies and have traveled across the country. Conversely, buying from local farm stands will ensure the freshest produce available, grown by farmers who care about their neighbors and communities.