Organic food options aren’t just for health food stores anymore; they’re everywhere. Organic fruits and veggies are especially abundant. But just because they are plentiful doesn’t necessarily mean they are cheap. What does it mean to be “organic,” and are organic fruits and veggies really worth the cost?
According to Columbia University Medical Center, in order to be considered “organic” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a product must be cultivated without the use of synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics or hormones. Many people claim that organic foods contain more nutrients than conventional food, but a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that this isn’t necessarily true.
The study analyzed conventional versus organic food in 11 different nutrient categories. In 8 of those 11 categories, the study found no significant difference in nutrient levels between conventional and organic foods.
Within the small differences noted, some nutrients were found in larger quantities in conventional food, and others were found in higher quantities in organic food. Overall, the authors of the study concluded that there is no meaningful difference in nutrients between the two production methods.
One of the benefits of eating organic food is reduced exposure to harmful chemicals and pesticides. However, the Environmental Protection Agency limits the chemical contamination permissible in conventional food as well. Eating conventionally doesn’t automatically mean your consuming a harmful quantity of chemicals.
So should you write off organic foods altogether? Not necessarily. When it comes to chemical content, all foods are not created equal. Every year, the environmental working group releases a list of fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residue.
If you’re looking to protect your body and the earth on a budget, consider buying only high pesticide residue foods organic. The top five foods on the list include apples, strawberries, grapes, celery and peaches, but be sure to check out the website to see if your favorite fruits and veggies make the list.
If you’re looking for a place to buy organic food in your area, be sure to check out the closest farmer’s market. Other great places with organic fruits and veggies in Chicago include Green Grocer, Stanley’s Fruits and Vegetables, and Chicago’s Green City Market, just to name a few. While buying healthy food that’s good for the planet may appear to be expensive, if you do it right, you can keep both your body and your wallet happy.