Organic Foods – Are they worth the cost?

If you are concerned about pesticide residues in foods today, you can turn to organic products –but don’t expect them to be nutritionally superior. Only few years ago, organic foods were found solely in health-food stores or at farmer’s markets. Today many supermarkets, stores, and even our around the corner Sabzi wala’s stock organic fruits and vegetables, meats, eggs, cereals, cookies, snack items, frozen foods- along with their conventionally produced counterparts.

The organic industry is growing at a fast pace every year and consumers are clearly willing to spend more money for organic foods, which have improved in quality and variety in recent years. But what are shoppers getting for the money?

The meaning of “organic”

Organic food is produced in order to protect the environment by rotating crops (which promote biological diversity), conserving and renewing the soil, and protecting sources of water. Theses crops are grown, handled, and processed without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, ir herbicides; artificial ingredients, or preservatives. By law, organic food is not irradiated, and, if the product is labelled “100 percent organic,” doesn’t contain genetically engineered ingredients. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are not given any antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food crops can, however, be grown with pesticides—just not synthetic ones.

Is organic food more nutritious?

There have been studies suggesting a difference in nutritional value, but they are far from conclusive. A few studies have reported that organic produce has higher levels of vitamin C, certain minerals, and antioxidants — thought to protect the body against ageing, cardiovascular disease. All of these studies had methodological problems. And even if the differences between organic and the conventionally produced counterparts are real, they are small. You’d get a lot more vitamin C eating an extra orange than in choosing organic sweetlime juice for breakfast.

There is one nutritional certainty, though. If you want to get the most from your food, eat it while it’s fresh. Plus, fresh food just tastes better. This may be one reason people sometimes report that organic foods have more flavor. Because organic farms tend to be smaller operations, they often sell their products closer to the point of harvest. So don’t be surprised if the organic fruits and vegetables in your market taste more “farm fresh” than the comparable conventional produce.

The safety factor

Is organic food safer to eat than conventionally produced food? That’s the big debate, of course. Even though Organic foods may have higher nutritional value than conventional foods, their environmental benefits are more established. So, there’s no clear evidence that there is a risk to eating conventional foods, or a benefit to eating organic ones.

The bottom line

Modern agricultural methods and our liberal use of pesticides upset the delicate ecological balance. Synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and other agricultural chemicals can certainly have adverse effects on farmers as well as on consumer health. There are many questions being raised regarding the use of organic over conventionally grown food items. It is an advantage though that, due to the increasing availability of organic foods, consumers who are concerned about chemical residues can now purchase organic alternatives.

Organic foods are usually less processed, have fewer additives, and are chemical free, also there is no shortage of organic Snack food. For fitness enthusiasts and health food lovers there’s an array of these snacks now available and they are also pocket friendly.

So what’s best to buy?

Buy organic pulses, beans, meat, eggs, and dairy if you prefer. The following fruits and vegetables have the highest pesticide levels so are best to buy organic:

·         Apples

·         Sweet Bell Peppers

·         Cucumbers

·         Celery

·         Potatoes

·         Grapes

·         Cherry Tomatoes

·         Kale/Collard Greens

·         Summer Squash

·         Nectarines (imported)

·         Peaches

·         Spinach

·         Strawberries

·         Hot Peppers

Fruits and vegetables, you DON’T need to buy organic

Known as the “Clean 15”, these conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables are generally low in pesticides.

·         Asparagus

·         Avocado

·         Mushrooms

·         Cabbage

·         Sweet Corn

·         Eggplant

·         Kiwi

·         Mango

·         Onion

·         Papaya

·         Pineapple

·         Sweet Peas (frozen)

·         Sweet Potatoes

·         Grapefruit

·         Cantaloupe


Author avatar
Dt. Fatema Arsiwala

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