Organic foods tend to have the reputation for being the healthiest, freshest food that money can buy. However, if you're on a budget you might not be able to afford to buy organics. This leads to the question of whether or not it's possible to eat healthy when you bypass the organic offerings. The answer may surprise you.
What Makes Food Organic?
The answer of whether or not organic foods are more nutritious than other foods cannot be addressed until you understand what "organic" truly means. "Organic" refers to the way in which the food was produced, not necessarily to the quality of the food itself. Organic produce is typically grown in pesticide-free farms and gardens that use techniques such as field-swapping and natural mulch to produce the robust produce you find in the grocery store. Produce not certified as organic may have been grown in farms that use pesticides to keep bugs away and chemical weedkillers. They may also have been grown with the assistance of chemical fertilizers.
Organic animal products, such as meat, poultry and dairy, are typically produced by farmers who don't use growth hormones, antibiotics or medications on their animals. Instead, they usually raise the animals in cleaner surroundings and use rotating grazing and balanced diet strategies to produce healthier, stronger animals.
Foods not certified as organic are not necessarily chemically laden, unclean products, though. A product must be at least 95% organically treated to receive the label, so other foods that are at least partially organically treated may not be eligible.
The Benefits of Organics
Not all of the purported benefits of organic foods are necessarily proven. There are the environmental benefits of not releasing chemicals into the environment and reducing pollution, which are pretty conclusive.
However, the other purported benefit of organic products is that foods that have not been chemically treated are safer for human consumption. This is largely debatable and most scientific studies have found that after washing produce, any chemicals left over are negligible and do not harm the body. Likewise, animals treated with chemicals have not been shown to produce unsafe foods. Nevertheless, it can be your personal choice to prefer the chemical-free preparation.
However, nowhere does the USDA, which certifies foods as organic in America, claim that organic products are more nutritious than non-organic products. Even growers of organic foods don't usually claim that their foods are necessarily more nutritious, and any studies trying to prove this fact have been inconclusive. Non-organic foods have just the same amount of vitamins and nutrients as organic products, as long as they haven't been processed with salt, high-fructose corn syrup or other unhealthy additives.
Whether you prefer to bypass the chemically treated foods is your own choice, but be aware that the chemicals have not been shown whatsoever to affect the nutrition of produce and animal products.