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Is Organic Food Better?

Is Organic Food Better?

Is Organic Food Better?

I have been asked this question a number of times throughout my years as a registered dietitian and diabetes educator. Recently I was inspired to do a little more research on the topic of organic food. To learn more I reviewed an article from the Journal of Life Science, Organic food and impact on human health: Assessing the status quo and prospects of research. This article reviewed recent research studies evaluating potential health benefits of organic foods over conventional foods.

Potential health benefits of organic foods over conventional foods:

  • Lower nitrate content
    • Nitrates are a preservative found in some processed meats. They have received negative attention for their potential link to cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
  • Lower pesticide residue
    • Pesticides are used to control pests such as, weeds, insects, and bacteria, that can damage crops.
    • Large amounts of pesticides may negatively impact development. Those at greater risk for negative health effects of high pesticide exposure include: infants, young children, and pregnant women
  • Greater levels of vitamin C
    • Vitamin C has received much attention for being a powerful antioxidant protecting the body from free radical damage. Over time free radial damage may increase the risk of heart disease. *Diabetes is a known risk factor for developing heart disease.
  • Organic milk may contain greater amounts of Omega 3 linolenic acids and conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) compared to conventional milk
    • Omega 3 fatty acids can help lower triglyceride levels. A high triglyceride level is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • The article concluded that more research is still needed to determine if the nutritional value and health benefits are greater in organic foods in comparison to conventional foods.


How is an organic food defined and who regulates organic foods?

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:

“Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.”1-2

How do I buy organic foods on a budget?

  • Start off by purchasing food items you regularly eat or drink, such as eggs, chicken, yogurt and milk. By purchasing items eaten regularly waste will be minimized.
  • Plan your meals. This will help you keep only the foods that you need at home and minimize waste.
  • Purchase produce that is in season
    • Need some help finding out what’s in season? Try the app Locavore. This app is a free app for iPhone and Android phones. Locavore shows produce that is in season near you and where you can find it.
    • Locavore
  • Purchase store brands
    • Simply Balanced- Target
    • 365 Everyday Value- Whole Foods
    • Simple Truth Organic- Kroger
    • Wild Oats- Walmart
  • Buy staple foods such as rice, beans, cereal, and nuts in bulk
  • Use the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list to help you decide which produce items to purchase as organic.
  • Join a CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture)
    • Being part of a CSA allows consumers to purchase local and in season produce directly from a farmer.
    • Local Harvest

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Huber, E. Rembialkowska, D. Srednicka, S. Bugel, L. van de Vijver. Organic food and impact on human health: Assessing the status quo and prospects on research. NJAS-Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences. 58 (2011)103-109.
  2. What does “organic” mean? 2016. Retrieved from