What to Eat

Is Organic REALLY Worth the Money??

4 Oct, 2019

Buying organic does cost more, but is it worth it? Does it really make a difference to your health?

There are typically two types of people: The ones who must buy everything organic, and the ones that don’t believe organic food makes a difference. So, which one is right? 

I get asked all the time what I think about buying organic food, and I know for many people, it can be a confusing topic. 

Seven years ago, I didn’t really understand what organic meant, nor did I worry about whether the food I was buying was organic or conventional. I also didn’t understand what was happening to the conventional fruits and vegetables I was buying or what it was doing to my body. 

Today, we see organic food everywhere. There are sections for organic food at almost every grocery store, and companies proudly claim “organic” on their boxes. It has become a big moneymaker, and it is no secret that if you buy organic, you will be paying more for it. 

Because organic food is often so much more expensive, it causes people to hesitate before purchasing… if they even make that choice at all. 

So, What Does Organic Really Mean? 

When food is produced organically, it means the farm where it was grown typically restricts the use of synthetic chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and other additives. Organic also means that the food does not contain genetically modified organisms (GMO) and is grown with natural fertilizers. The farmers also do not use industrial solvents, synthetic food additives, or irradiation to produce the food being grown and sold. 

Contrary to popular belief, it does not mean that the food being bought is free of chemicals and pesticides, but it does mean they are used less and more restrictive, meaning you will be ingesting cleaner food. 

To be considered organic, the pesticides used on these foods must be natural, rather than synthetically made. It is the synthetic pesticides that are used in crops that are often found to be carcinogenic, raising your risk of cancer. 

The most popular types of organic foods that you may buy at the store include fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products, and grains. 

Food that comes from animals, such as meat and dairy are free from antibiotics and hormones. Just because a food is organic, does not mean it is not processed, as organic foods are now being used to make processed foods. For example, you can now find organic chips, soda, cereals, cookies, etc. 

As you shop for food, you will notice that several labels will use the word organic, but in different ways. Here are three labels you may find and what they mean: 

  • 100% Organic – Entire product is made from organic ingredients
  • Organic – At least 95% of the product is made from organic ingredients
  • Made with Organic – At least 70% of the product is made from organic ingredients
  • Natural – Does not contain artificial ingredients or preservative, but can still contain antibiotics, growth hormones, or chemicals
  • All-Natural – There is no regulation between “all-natural” and “natural”

Is Organic Better For You? 

When you go to the store and purchase your food, you will often have the option to buy organic, but is organic really better for your health? 

As it turns out, most organic food does have more benefits than buying conventional. 

Top Reasons Why Organic Is Better: 

Fewer Chemicals and Pesticides

One of the biggest reasons people to choose to go organic is because they want to avoid all the synthetic chemicals and pesticides that are found in non-organic foods, and this is a really good reason!

Studies even show that when you eat organic, you consume four times fewer pesticides. 

The chemicals that are found in non-organic food are toxic to the human body, but the reason we don’t notice the effect is that we eat such small amounts. However, over time, these toxins build up in our body and begin to cause real harm, and many have even been linked to cancer. 

More Antioxidants and Vitamins

Studies have shown that organic foods have more antioxidants and more vitamins, like zinc and iron. What’s surprising isn’t that these levels are higher in organic foods, but the fact that in organic foods antioxidants, can be up to 69% higher and vitamins can be up to 52% higher, depending on the food you choose.

Decreases Risk of Cancer

Organic foods have been found to have up to 30% lower nitrates than conventionally grown food, and this is great news! Research has linked higher nitrate levels with an increased risk of cancer

Better for the Environment

One of the great things about buying organic is you are also doing the environment a favor, as organic food is better for the environment. 

The top benefits of buying organic means cleaner water (non-organic pollutes waterways), more use of renewable energy sources, improved soil formation and structure, cleaner air, no GMOs environmental impact, and promotion of healthy gene pool among plants and animals. 

Not Everything Needs to Be Bought Organically

Buying organic has many benefits, both for you and the environment. If you want to be as healthy as you can, and prevent toxins from entering your body, then you should definitely buy organic. 

However, buying organic is more expensive than buying non-organic, and it is understandable why people choose the latter. If you are on a tight budget, there are foods that you should ALWAYS buy organic, and then there are foods that you should buy organically, but they are not as crucial. We call these foods the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen.”

This list is based on the Environmental Working Group, which is posted on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program, which is updated every year. These foods are based on the amount of pesticide residue found on each group of food. The Dirty Dozen has the highest amount of pesticide residue, while the clean fifteen are found to have the lowest amounts.  

The Dirty Dozen: ALWAYS BUY ORGANIC!

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

organic food

The Clean Fifteen: Lower in Pesticides

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Sweet peas (frozen)
  5. Onions
  6. Papayas
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwis
  10. Cabbage
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Cantaloupes
  13. Broccoli
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew

Bottom Line: Should You Buy Organic Food? 

Absolutely! 

Buying organic may be more costly, but it is worth every penny, and if you can’t afford to buy all organic, follow the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list. 

And I will even add my own to this list: Coffee – always buy your coffee organic, as it is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world!

Buying organic should be a priority if you can afford it because it doesn’t contain all of the synthetic chemicals that non-organic food contains; chemicals that have been linked to cancer and disease. 

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