Organic is the hot word of the day. More and more you hear people talking about eating organic and that has led to a much larger variety of organic sections in your grocery store as well as services that will deliver organic foods to your door. So what’s the big deal?
Is it really that important to eat organic?
Eating organic means choosing foods which are free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes, and must not be processed using industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering. In your shopping, you will often times see a label indicating that the food is certified organic and to be certified they must abide by these standards.
What does this really mean for you?
It means that by buying organic you are choosing to put only organic materials in your body rather then allowing yourself to be exposed to antibiotics and pesticides that are found in non-organic products. Conventionally produced meats in particular are known to contain antibiotics and synthetic additives that can be harmful to your health. For produce, most non-organic fruits and vegetables are exposed to pesticides that have been linked to chronic illness and cancer.
By eating organic you are also giving a high five to the environment by helping to promote biodiversity. Conventional farming robs the soil of many minerals and nutrients and destroys the diversity of plant life. Organic farming is also more energy efficient as farmers use more labour intensive practices and rely less on things like synthetic fertilizers.
Buying organic is expensive
But buying organic is expensive and I can’t always afford it! It’s true; the cost of organic grains, produce and meat can be prohibitive for some. This is why it is good to be in the know about the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen. These lists refer to the fruits and vegetables that are the most and least contaminated by pesticide use, according to the Environmental Working Group and by using them you can get the most bang for your buck. The EWG recently released the list for 2016 and they update this list annually.
Washing non-organic produce is important
When you do buy the non-organic variety of produce, it is important to wash it well. No washing method completely removes or kills all microbes but studies have shown that thoroughly rinsing fresh produce under running water is an effective way to reduce the number of microorganisms. Washing fruits and vegetables not only helps remove dirt, bacteria, and stubborn garden pests, but it also helps remove residual pesticides.
Under running water, rub fruits and vegetables with your hands to remove dirt and surface microorganisms. If you are planning to soak it in water use a clean bowl as the sink often harbours microorganisms. Produce with a hard rind or firm skin like avocado should be scrubbed with a vegetable brush.
And remember, meat should always be organic and fish should be wild and not farmed.
Keep these lists handy to help you make the best decisions for your health while getting the most for your hard earned money.