There’s a lot of confusion surrounding organic and conventional foods and which is a healthier option. In terms of nutritional value, there’s no set-in-stone research to state that all organic produce is higher in vitamins and minerals than conventional produce.
What does the “organic” label mean? According to the USDA, organic products forbid the use of synthetic fertilizers & pesticides, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering to grow fruit, nuts, vegetables and grains. Organic meat and poultry can’t be irradiated. Animals must have access to the outdoors and can’t be given any growth hormones, antibiotics or other drugs. Feed must be 100% organic with no animal by-products. Consuming organic produce reduces risk of consuming pesticides by 30%. Organic doesn’t mean pesticide-free, however, they are limited to a list of natural pesticides they can use- no synthetic pesticides are allowed. Not only do you benefit from this, but all workers involved such as the farmers benefit from not having to work in an environment with harsh chemicals.
There are twelve crops that tend to contain high amounts of pesticide residues, referred to as the “dirty dozen”. The dirty dozen includes strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, cherries, grapes, pears, celery, tomatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers.
All the benefits of eating organic foods have led to a misconception that anything not organic must be genetically modified (GMO). GMO seed is only available for sugar beets, soybeans, canola, cotton, corn, zucchini, yellow summer squash, potatoes, papayas, and apples so there are a number of conventional produce items available without GMOs. If you want to avoid genetically modified foods, buy organic and look for the “non-GMO” label.
There is not enough scientific evidence to prove organic foods are higher in nutritional value than conventional. This is difficult to research, as many factors affect the quality of produce such as soil quality, growing conditions, harvesting methods and timing. Buying fresh produce when in season and buying frozen when not in season is a good way to save money. Overall, it is up to you to choose if you want to buy organic or non-organic. Either way, aim to buy more fruits and vegetables to incorporate into your daily meals and snacks.
Meeting with a Nutritionist to review your diet to find ways to include healthy organic and conventional foods is a good idea if you’re unsure of your diet choices. Many individuals can fall into a trap of feeling they have a healthy diet because it includes organic foods even though they don’t consistently make healthy diet choices. A Florida Nutritionist can help identify habits that lead to unhealthy eating behaviors and develop a plan to improve your diet with organic and conventional foods you enjoy. Contact us today to learn more about our Nutritional Therapy Services in Florida.