Is Organic Produce Worth The Extra Cost?

We all know it’s better to eat more fruit and vegetables. But concerns about the safety of conventionally grown produce versus organically grown always comes up as well.

When produce is organic, it means that it has been produced without using chemical fertilizers or pesticides. There are some compelling reasons why people choose to buy organic produce. The main reason to eat organic produce is to avoid the pesticide residue left on foods. Hands down, organically raised food is better for the environment. Absence of pesticides results in healthier soil, water, and wildlife. Buying organically grown produce supports small farmers and contributes to biodiversity.

Some people choose organic produce because they believe it has a higher nutritional value than commercially grown produce. The comparisons of nutritional content between food organically grown and conventionally grown produce, however, shows little difference. Consider also that much of the produce we buy today is not always locally grown. We have many fruits and vegetables to choose from year round because they have been shipped from other parts of the country (or the world). The fact that a fruit or vegetable is organic does not necessarily translate to nutritional superiority simply because it’s organic. If shipped from far away, it may already be past its nutritional peak.

For many health conscious families, the purchase of organic produce is cost prohibitive. As much as they would like to eat more organically grown food, they simply cannot afford the higher cost. Most of us have a food budget and have to make choices about what we buy, and perhaps a compromise is what’s called for. There are two things you can do to take advantage of organically grown produce as much as possible.

Buy local organic produce when it’s in season. In many parts of the USA, that means taking advantage of certain fruits and vegetables during the warmer months when available. Freezing or canning local organic produce is a possible option for when those items are out of season.

Buy conventionally grown produce from the "Clean 15" list, and organic only for those foods that are on the "The Dirty Dozen" list. The Dirty Dozen are the fruits and vegetables which have the largest amount of pesticide residues, and the Clean 15 have the least amount.

The "Clean 15":

Onions
Avocados
Sweet corn
Pineapples
Mango
Sweet peas
Asparagus
Kiwi fruit
Cabbage
Eggplant
Cantaloupe
Watermelon
Grapefruit
Sweet potatoes
Sweet onions

The "Dirty Dozen":

Celery
Peaches
Strawberries
Apples
Domestic blueberries
Nectarines
Sweet bell peppers
Spinach, kale and collard greens
Cherries
Potatoes
Imported grapes
Lettuce

When the warm weather arrives again, make a habit of visiting your local farmers' markets and buy local organic produce throughout the season.

© 2013 Gretchen Scalpi. All rights reserved.

The Author:

Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She is the author of "The Quick Start Guide To Healthy Eating", "The Everything Guide to Managing and Reversing Pre-Diabetes", "The Everything Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd ed." and "Pre-Diabetes Your Second Chance At Health". Use your organic produce in the recipes from her book "Quick Start Recipes For Healthy Meals" available at http://gretchenscalpi.com/quick-start-recipes/.

Photo Credit: Suat Eman | Freedigitalphotos.net

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