Why would you choose organic?
You must agree that the taste of organic food, be it fruit, vegetables, or meat, tastes much better than non-organic. However, unless you are financially well off, it is very difficult to eat all organic all of the time. But how do you way up the cost to your health and the cost to your pocket of not eating organic?
The most recent analysis of research into the nutrient content of organic food compared to conventionally produced foods, has shown that organic crops were of a much higher nutritional quality than the non-organic counterparts.
Non-organic crops are treated with nitrogen, created synthetically or mined (made with gas), and sprayed with regular doses of fungicides and insecticides. Tests have shown that even after power washing residues remain; leafy and soft skinned fruit and vegetables retain the most. Monoculture (only growing one crop) removes good bacteria in the soil allowing fungi and pests to flourish, therefore farmers rely on fertilisers, pesticides and fungicides – made from fossil fuels – to keep their crops growing. In modern non-organic farming, agricultural chemicals replace natural plant defences and insects are controlled with organophosphorus insecticides which interfere with their nervous systems (the commonly used chlorpyrifos is chemically similar to nerve gas). Hedges, trees and fallow strips are removed, destroying natural resources (other insects) to destroy the pests naturally. The 2009 Pesticide Residue Committee (PRC) report found pesticide residues in 14 out of 15 UK eating apples tested, and 100% of UK cooking apples tested. The PRC do not deem low levels of these residues harmful.
Organic farmers grow a range of vegetables, cereals, grass and animals, in a rotation system. This keeps the soil fertile, preventing the buildup of weeds, pests and diseases. Nitrogen is added naturally by growing clover and spreading organic compost. Farmers that don’t use chemicals maintain the long-term fertility of the soil by allowing worms, insects and other organisms to flourish. There are more living organisms in a handful of good soil than people on earth. By enhancing the healthy bacteria in soils, plants absorb nutrients effectively. Traditional farming encourages wildlife that help control pests and disease. Hedgerows, trees and fallow strips team with fauna that naturally control bugs that like eating the crops. This biodiversity is a key element to organic farming.
Certain types of organic produce can reduce the amount of toxins you consume on a daily basis by as much as 80 percent!
Organic crops have significantly higher concentrations of nutritionally desirable antioxidants and polyphenolics compared to conventionally produced counterparts. These compounds interact with and neutralise free radicals, thus preventing them from causing damage to cells in the body, which are linked to many health problems. These benefits have been known to have to protect against cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Don’t be too alarmed as there are a few things to consider when you go shopping that will help:
Whether you are on a budget and need to prioritise your organic purchases, or you would simply like to know which type of produce has the highest pesticide residues — and which do not — the following guide will help. The Environmental Working Group have put together ‘The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15’ to help consumers know when they should buy organic and when it is unnecessary if money is not abundant. These lists were compiled using data from the United States Department of Agriculture on the amount of pesticide residue found in non-organic fruits and vegetables after they had been washed.
The fruits and vegetables on ‘The Dirty Dozen’ list, when conventionally grown, tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals, with some testing positive for as many as 67. Here is the list:
12 Most Contaminated
Sweet Bell Peppers
12 Least Contaminated
Sweet Corn (Frozen)
Sweet Peas (Frozen)
Peeling the fruit or vegetable will solve this but you could be loosing a lot of the vital fibre in the product, not to mention any vitamins or minerals!
As soon as you buy your fruit and vegetables, fill the sink (or buy a bowl if you use bleach or strong detergents) and put half a cap full of apple cider vinegar into it and wash thoroughly before putting them away. This way you don’t have to worry about them again and the apple cider vinegar will wash away any remaining pesticide residue. Alternatively fill a spray bottle up with filtered water and add a few drops of apple cider vinegar, and spray before eating.
This recent study in the British Journal of nutrition, unlike other contradictory reports in the past, clearly supports the view that the quality of food is influenced by the way it is produced.
Why wouldn’t you choose organic?