Walking through the grocery store, you may notice the different produce sections, mainly organic and non-organic foods. Advocates claim that organically grown foods are more nutritious and safer for humans and the environment. But what does this mean? Is it worth it to buy organic food?
What does it mean for something to be organic?
The word organic describes how food is grown, processed, and handled. To be organic, produce should be grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetic engineering, sewage sludge, and genetic notification. For meat to be organic, it should be raised without hormones or antibiotics. Produce can be different levels of organic and can be labeled differently. Here are the common organic labels and what they mean:
- 100% Organic: All the ingredients are certified organic
- Organic: 95% of the ingredients are certified organic
- Made with organic ingredients: 70% of the ingredients are organic
How do pesticides affect the human body?
Although it might be easy to think organic foods are pesticide-free, that isn’t necessarily the case. Organic farmers are allowed to use pesticides, but only from natural sources. Eating foods with synthetic pesticides can lead to short-term and long-term side effects, such as
- reproductive harm
- stingy eyes
The Dirty Dozen: Most and Least Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables
It can be difficult to know what products to buy to avoid pesticides, so here are the 12 most and least contaminated foods:
- Bell Peppers
- Imported Grapes
- Frozen Sweet Peas
- Frozen Sweet Corn
Is Organic Meat Better and Safer for You?
Ultimately, eating organic or conventional meat has equal potential risk to one’s health. With conventional meat, pesticides, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be harmful to your body. However, organic meat can be more prone to becoming contaminated, likely due to antibiotics not being used. So regarding your health, organic and conventional meat are roughly the same risk.
What is your best option when it comes to eating organic?
Ultimately, it is not necessary to completely go organic, but it can not hurt to implement some organic options into your diet. Organic foods can get quite expensive, costing as much as double the price of their non-organic counterparts. For this reason, it can be good to add in organic foods here and there, but not to make them your only source of nutrition.