It is a fact that vegetables are a key component to a healthy diet, but that isn't the question up for debate. There is discussion if we should be purchasing organic versus non-organic, also known as conventional, vegetables. Although the answer is not yet clear on whether organic vegetables are more nutritious, we are understanding the main differences between organic versus non-organic. It is still important to remember to eat a variety of vegetables in your diet, regardless of their labeling. Below we share the main differences between the two.
One of the biggest reasons people purchase organic produce is due to conventional grower's use of pesticides on their crops. The main reason pesticides are used is to protect crops from insects, mold or even disease. These dangers can potentially destroy a farmer's entire crop.
Some people buy organic food to limit their exposure to these residues. A produce wash is a great way to remove some of the pesticides from your produce. For a natural wash, combine equal parts of vinegar and water and soak or wash produce thoroughly. Consider purchasing organic for the produce that has found its way on the "dirty dozen" list of the most pesticide ridden produce. Check out the full list here.
One of the main reasons organic produce is not purchased as often as conventional is due to their increased cost. Much of the cost added is due to the organic certification which is costly to acquire, but also the various farming practices that take place with organic produce.
Genetically Modified Organisms
Genetically modified organisms, also referred to as GMOs, are becoming a common practice in the United States. GMOs are genes that have been genetically altered. GMOs alter the seeds of various crops to help maintain the crop. The development of pesticide and drought resistant seeds are just two of the ways that GMOs are being used. Since this is a newer practice, more research is necessary to determine if there is a negative impact from consuming vegetables that contain GMOs.
Since organic produce is not treated with pesticides, it can often spoil faster. You may also notice less than perfect pieces of organic produce with minor imperfections. Remember that conventional vegetables can sometimes be treated with wax to give it a more appealing appearance. The taste should be the main factor over appearance.
Kristen Bourque, RD, LD has been writing health-related articles since 2000. Her nutrition articles and recipes have been featured in "Today's Dietitian" as well as the Canadian magazine "Glow". Kristen combines her love of nutrition with cooking on her personal blog, Swanky Dietitian.