I speak to a lot of people in my job that are unfamiliar with the term organic, they want to know what it means, why it costs more (most of the time), and whether or not it is worth the extra expense.
It’s a complicated issue, really, because there are lots of factors in play. It’s about human health from exposure to pesticides and fertilizers and possible nutritional differences, but it’s also about the environmental impact of pesticide and fertilizer run-off, animal welfare, and welfare of the agricultural workers.
For me, all of these factors make my decision very easy and I buy organic when it is offered and I am lucky that I can afford to, but I know, especially with the current state of the economy, that many people have to decide based on their pocketbook.
For those who find this true, generally the most important factor becomes your family’s own health. Let’s dive into this just a little. The amounts of pesticides that remain on conventionally grown produce are small, but they can accumulate in the body over time and have proven links to cancer, problems with fetal development, and can be very dangerous for children due to their small size and increased sensitivity.
There are some helpful hints out there that can guide your organic decisions to minimize extra cost where you can. The Environmental Working Group has come out with a list of the “dirty dozen” and the “clean fifteen” to help consumers choose organic where it will most impact their health. They found that people who regularly ate items off the dirty dozen list consumed an average of 10 pesticides a day, while those who chose items from the clean fifteen list consumed less than 2. By the way, the study assumed that most consumers washed or peeled their fruits and veggies.
Their lists are a good guide to let you know where your dollars are best spent on organics, a must for dirty dozen items, only if you can afford it on the clean fifteen. So, without further ado:
This post only scratches the surface of the organic topic, I think I’ll be continuing with a couple additional posts focused on other organic foods, probably meat and dairy, so look for those in the future.