You may or may not have known that September was Organic Awareness Month and so, we thought it was only fitting to reflect upon and discuss the ins and outs of all things, organic produce.
Have you ever wandered through the supermarket, trying to find the way to justify handing over $10 per kilo for organic sweet potato when the non-organic variety are a third of the pice?
For lots of us, price is a top priority when grocery shopping, even if we want to be prioritising health and eating organic. So, if organic groceries are out of the budget are there organic products you should prioritise buying over others? Here are our top reasons why you should opt for organic and which foods are more important to splash the extra coin on.
1. Avoid chemicals
This one is at the top for good reason - eating organically grown foods is the only way to avoid the cocktail of chemical poisons present in commercially grown food. Conventional farming techniques use pesticides, poisons and sprays to protect their crops and ensure they have a decent yield of produce. These poisons are absorbed into the food that we then eat. Organic farmers are not allowed to use any synthetic pesticides. Farming practices for organic crops are extremely tightly regulated to ensure quality. Farmers have to be registered as "Certified Organic" and as such are given a logo to indicate their certification.
2. Benefit from more nutrients
Organically grown foods have more nutrients—vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and micronutrients—than commercially grown foods because the soil is managed and nourished with sustainable practices. Of course, this will vary between crops due to a large number of variables that come into play with the production of any one piece of fruit, however, overall organic crops have been shown to be more nutrient-dense.
3. Organic tastes better
You will understand this one if you are already an organic produce buyer. Organically grown foods (generally) taste better because nourished, well-balanced soil produces healthy, strong crops.
4. Avoid hormones, antibiotics and drugs in animal products
Conventional meat and dairy are the highest risk foods for contamination by harmful substances and the majority of our pesticide intake comes from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products because these foods are all high on the food chain. These animals are also pumped with growth hormones, antibiotics and drugs that are directly transferred into the food we eat. The major concern here is that these hormones and chemicals can cause an early onset of puberty, heightened cancer risks, genetic problems and growth of tumours. For this reason, we recommend choosing grass-fed, organic meats.
5. Preserve our ecosystems
Organic farming supports eco-sustenance or farming in harmony with nature. Preservation of soil and crop rotation keep farmland healthy, and chemical abstinence preserves the ecosystem. Wildlife, insects, birds, frogs and soil organisms are able to play their roles as nature intended, all the while, we play ours without interference or compromise.
So this is all well and good, but if the cost is still a deciding factor when you are grocery shopping then we are here to help you navigate where to spend. As we mentioned earlier, certain fruits and vegetables contain much higher pesticide residue than other fruits and vegetables. Each year The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a list of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables. Needless to say, if you can, buy the organic varieties of these:
This year’s Dirty Dozen list:
1. Strawberries 2. Spinach 3. Kale 4. Nectarines 5. Apples 6. Grapes 7. Peaches 8. Cherries 9. Pears 10. Tomatoes 11. Celery 12. Potatoes
On the contrary, the EWG also releases a list that will excite! These conventionally raised produce items had the lowest amount of pesticides residues, with the majority only containing four or fewer pesticides. Almost 70% of these samples had no pesticide residues whatsoever:
The “Clean Fifteen” are:
1. Avocados 2. Sweet corn 3. Pineapple 4. Onions 5. Papaya 6. Sweet peas (frozen) 7. Eggplants 8. Asparagus 9. Cauliflower 10. Cantaloupes 11. Broccoli 12. Mushrooms 13. Cabbage 14. Honeydew melon 15. Kiwifruit
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, we believe that our main priority should be including as many whole foods in the diet as possible, organic or not. Do not let the dirty dozen deter you from eating produce that isn't organic. Yes, if you can it is better to purchase organic but the nutritional benefits (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants) are still in conventional fruits and vegetables and are essential to our health.