Weighing in on Benefits of Organic Foods
In some ways, organic and conventional produce are equal. Studies have shown that despite popular belief, the nutritional quality (i.e. vitamin content) of organically grown and conventionally grown produce is equal. However, you may have noticed conventional vegetables and fruits often look prettier. Taste is typically not impacted by whether or not produce is organic but by how local it is and the growing process. The closer to home a fruit or vegetable is, the fresher and more pallatable it will be. Larger fruits and vegetables often have less flavor due to higher water content. Think hydroponic tomatoes.
The health benefit of eating organic produce lies in the potential to offset pesticide accumulation in the body. In fact, one study showed a 98% reduction in pesticides in the body over two weeks by replacing conventional fruits and vegetables with organic varieties. Read more about the benefits of organic foods in this CNN segment.
There are also numerous environmental and economical benefits despite the higher price for these foods. Eating organic foods when possible supports smaller farms and places pressure on the food industry to set higher standards for the quality of food and farming practices. Over time, hopefully this will lower the price of high quality foods for everyone.
One potential risk of organic produce is lack of pest control. It is important to inspect food well and wash it even if is says “pre-washed” on the package. Recently, there was a recall on a number of lettuces that were shown to contain Listeria. For more information click here.
I am not an advocate of eating all organic since holding to such a rigid standard is difficult if you plan to have a well-balanced, enjoyable life. In my experience, rigidity lends itself to increased stress and who needs that? Moreover, it’s not a good idea to avoid fruits and vegetables because they’re not organic since the benefits of eating them outweigh the risk. I tell clients to eat organic foods when possible. However, if the diet overall is healthy, including a lot of fruits and vegetables (no matter what the variety), you are enhancing the body’s natural ability to detoxify itself.