With Whole Foods and Fresh Market stores popping up on every corner lately, I have started thinking more and more about buying organic foods. Of course we all want to feed our families the best and healthiest food we can, but should we buy organic foods or is conventionally farmed food just as good and healthy?
Some people choose organic food because they prefer the taste, but others choose organic because of concerns about pesticides and food additives (preservatives, artificial sweeteners, flavoring, coloring, etc). Some opt for organic foods because the environmental impact is less with organic farming. Organic farmers use natural fertilizers for soil and plants, and crop rotation or mulch to manage weeds. One thing I learned while researching organic foods is that organic foods are still treated with pesticides, but they are natural pesticides, not synthetic. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information about the nutritional benefits of organic foods. An article appearing in the Washington Post titled, “Is organic better for your health? A look at milk, meat, eggs, produce and fish,” bybreaks down the benefits (or not) of organic foods. Here’s what she had to say….
Milk: Organic milk has higher omega-3 fat levels, but probably not enough to make a difference. Exposure to pesticides, contaminants or hormones is not a significant risk in either organic or conventional milk.
Produce: While there may be no significant nutritional difference between organic and conventional produce, organic does have lower levels of pesticide residue. However, there isn’t universal agreement on the risk those residues pose.
Meat: There doesn’t seem to be much difference, health-wise, between organic or conventional meats. Grass-fed beef has a slight edge over grain-fed because of higher omega-3 levels, but the amounts are probably too small to affect human health.
Eggs: There are no significant differences affecting health between organic and conventional eggs.
Fish: The USDA has not issued any organic standards for farmed fish or shellfish.
The full article can be found here.
Here are a couple things to consider when buying organic.
1. Cost. Organic foods typically cost more than conventionally farmed foods do partly because of more expensive farming practices. Organic foods also tend to spoil faster because they are not treated with preservatives.
2. Buy frozen. Buying organic fruits and vegetables in the frozen section is much cheaper–especially when certain ones are not in season. Some stores often run sales on their organic items too. Another option is to buy locally organic farmed food, or even grow your own in a backyard garden. You can find a list of local Central Florida organic farms at LocalHarvest.org
While there are strong arguments that organic farming practices are better for the environment, I am not so sure it’s worth it to me to splurge for health reasons. I mean let’s be real, my child (and probably yours too) eats off the floor at times and doesn’t always wash her hands! So, do you buy organic? If you already do, will you continue? I would love to hear your thoughts. If you have a favorite Central Florida organic farm or a tip for buying organic foods without breaking the bank, I’d love to know that too!