I'm a big proponent of organic living, but I also understand that it's not always financially feasible to buy everything organic all the time. By knowing what's is the most important to buy organic, you can live better without breaking the bank.
What does Organic even mean?
Organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or ionizing radiation. Animals raised to produce organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.
But what does that really mean? Why is Organic Living beneficial?
- A four-year, $25 million European Union funded study found that with regards to organic food compared to "regular" food, there are 40% more antioxidants in organic food. Also, milk taken from organic herds contains 90% more antioxidants. There are also higher levels of beneficial minerals such as zinc and iron in organic produce.
- Organic farming helps our environment by increasing soil fertility, encouraging natural organisms to flourish, and allowing plants and animals to boost their natural resistance to disease instead of relying on antibiotics or fungicides.
- Research suggests that pesticides have harmful effects on humans, specifically pregnant women and children. One study found that the frequency of leukemia in children was 650% greater in homes where indoor and garden pesticides were used.
- Studies show that pesticides can adversely affect the nervous system, increase the risk of cancer, and decrease fertility.
- Synthetic fertilizer drifting downstream is the main culprit for dead zones in delicate ocean environments, such as the Gulf of Mexico, where its dead zone is now larger than 22,000 square kilometers, an area larger than New Jersey.
- Scientists now know what we consumers have known all along: organic food tastes better. It makes sense that strawberries taste yummier when raised in harmony with nature, but researchers at Washington State University just proved in taste tests when the organic berries were consistently judged as sweeter.
Certain products are heavily treated with pesticides and antibiotics, and should be the focus of your organic budget:
- MEAT & DAIRY. Raising animals with conventional methods often means using hormones to speed up growth, antibiotics to resist disease and pesticides to grow the grain fed to the animals.
- COFFEE. Many of the beans you buy are grown in countries that don't regulate use of chemicals and pesticides. Look for the Fair Trade Certified Organic label on the package. Even better, fair trade prices mean improved health care and housing for farmers families, keeping their kids in school longer, and being able to afford materials for the farm.
- PEACHES have the highest levels of pesticides of all conventional produce.
- APPLES frequently experience insect infestations, so conventional methods use high levels of pesticides. Scrubbing and peeling apples eliminate chemical residue completely. Besides, peeling a fruit or vegetable also strips away many of their beneficial nutrients.
- BELL PEPPERS crops are heavily sprayed to keep them insect-free. What’s worst is that peppers have thin skins that don't offer much of a barrier to pesticides.
- CELERY has no protective skin, so it’s almost impossible to wash off the chemicals used on conventional crops.
- STRAWBERRIES are one of the most pesticide-laden foods of all. They’re not easy to wash because they’re small and easily bruised. Keep in mind that if you buy strawberries out of season, they're most likely imported from countries that use less-stringent regulations for pesticide use.
- LEAFY GREENS are frequently contaminated with what are considered the most potent pesticides used on food.
- TOMATOES easily punctured skin is no match for chemicals that eventually permeate it.
- CORN Unfortunately, most corn is now genetically modified (that means that the genes and DNA have been altered in that food item). Many products contain corn syrup too so choose organic when you can for those items as well.
Foods That Are Naturally Pest Resistant:
These fruits have skins that protect them from pesticide residue:
I hope this has been useful and that everyone will consider incorporating an organic lifestyle, particularly with any meat or animal products. Now go enjoy the earth's bounty!