Admin {{ oUser.name }} Logout Looking to lose weight? Try our FREE Calorie Counter » | Log In
All Articles Fitness Nutrition

When Does Buying Organic Matter the Most?

Organic foods can be expensive, so with a limited budget what foods should you purchase organic?

Organically grown or organically produced foods are foods that are grown using non-synthetic pest controls, permaculture, beneficial insects, and natural soil replenishment. They are required to be produced with little or no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides and without antibiotics or hormones or genetic engineering or irradiation. This is an alternative to conventional farming, where foods approved to be sold as organic are approved by the National Organic Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Often on labels, there can be many different and often confusing statements about if the food is organic or not or how much of it is made with organic ingredients. There are often many different parts of labels that can be confusing including, “Made with organic ingredients,” “free range,” “natural,” “no synthetic ingredients,” or “hormone free.”

If you want to buy organically grown foods, make sure that the label reads “100% organic”. This means that the product only contains organic ingredients, with the exception of salt and water. When you see the term “organic” on a label, this means there is a minimum of 95 percent organic, except water and salt. The 5 percent of other ingredients are those that are not organic options available or they are not on an approved list. Often you will see a USDA organic seal on the label. Labels that read “made with organic ingredients” have to contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients.

Sometimes labels may state that the food is “free range,” “hormone free,” or “natural.” These statements do not mean a food has followed the same stringent rules as organic foods must meet.

Organic foods are popular for many reasons. Organic crops are required to be grown in soil that has been free of prohibited fertilizers and pesticides for three or more years. Organic fertilizers mean that plants grow with lower levels of nitrogen and nitrate, which results in less dietary consumption of nitrates. High concentrations of nitrates in the diet are considered to be associated with potential carcinogenic activity. However, some polluted water sources can cause organic food to have residues of conventional pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

However, often for consumers, the challenge for determining whether organic food is the best choice for you and your family often comes down to cost. The cost for organic food is often significantly higher, although costs have been decreasing for many organic foods.

Below is a list of some of the foods that tend to have higher contaminants, usually related to water content. These foods should be prioritized when purchasing organically grown produce.

Fruits:

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines

Vegetables:

  • Potatoes
  • Celery
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Leafy Vegetables like Spinach, Lettuce

These foods usually contain less pesticide residue and when cost constraints exist, you may want to choose these foods over ones on the above list.

Fruits:

  • Mangoes
  • Pineapple
  • Bananas
  • Kiwi
  • Avocados
  • Papayas

Vegetables:

  • Eggplant
  • Sweet Corn
  • Cabbage
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Broccoli

For meats, purchasing organic is recommended if you want to ensure that the meat you eat has been raised with the highest standards. Poultry and animals are fed only organic feed, raised in humane conditions and have access to the outdoors. Hormones to increase growth and the use of antibiotics are not allowed for organically raised animals, although vitamin and mineral supplements are allowed. If an animal gets sick and is treated with medication, it cannot be sold as organic.

Ways to reduce exposure to pesticides and contaminants on food.

- Reduce pesticides and contaminants by washing and scrubbing all produce.

- Pull off the outer leaves of your leafy vegetables, like cabbage or lettuce.

- Remove the peel from your fruits and vegetables.

- Remove as much fat and skin from your meats and poultry because pesticide residues can be found in higher concentrations in this part of the meat.

[Image via Shutterstock]

{{ oArticle.title }}

{{ oArticle.subtitle }}