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Why Buying Organic May Be Worth Your Money

Each year after the holidays, the media goes through a huge health kick. Many magazines, newspapers, and talk shows are touting the latest research for healthier diets, more active lifestyles and weight loss techniques.

Why shop organic?

One term that comes up year after year is organic. You may have read that organic does not mean more nutritious and in many cases that is true. Organic produce does not contain higher levels of vitamins, minerals or even fiber. It’s what it’s lacking that makes it such a great choice for you and your family.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) spends much of its resources on the USDA organic label. If you have never seen this label on a food package or vegetable, I encourage you to take some time to peruse your grocery store and look for it. It is a small black and white symbol found on packages that have been approved by the USDA that follow organic processes. This may sound easy enough of a label to achieve, but actually it takes a lot of time and effort by the farmer to raise organic crops or animals.

“Organic certification requires that farmers and handlers document their processes and get inspected ever year.”1 Talk about quality assurance! Every single year the USDA sends someone out to each farm that grows organically to make sure that their processes are still within the guidelines. “Organic on-site inspections account for every component of the operation, including, but not limited to, seed sources, soil conditions, crop health, weed and pest management, water systems, inputs, contamination and commingling risks and prevention, and record-keeping. Tracing organic products from start to finish is part of the USDA organic promise.”1

This means that the farmers are not allowed to use any prohibited pesticides to grow their crops. It also means that they were not allowed to use these substances “for three years prior to harvest.”1 This ensures that there will not be any pesticide residue left to enter our system when we consume the products. The same rigorous process is done on organic beef, eggs, poultry and milk. These time-consuming steps make it easier to understand why eating organically comes at a higher price.

What’s the “dirty dozen”?

Another frequent term you may have heard is the “dirty dozen list” or the list of produce that you should definitely avoid buying unless it is organic due to the very high levels of pesticide residue left upon testing.

Dirty Dozen, foods to avoid buying unless organic:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Bell Peppers
  3. Spinach
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Cherries
  7. Potatoes
  8. Nectarines
  9. Grapes
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Pears

Whenever possible, buy these as organic as otherwise they are the most likely to be contaminated by pesticides. Why should you avoid pesticides? Just as they are made to poison pests, they can also be toxic to our health. Intake of pesticides can cause many illnesses in people including cancer. Making the choice to buy organic, whether frequently or infrequently, will always be a good step towards better health.

Tips to remember:

  • Organic does not mean more vitamins and minerals
  • Consider buying organic whenever possible
  • Look for the USDA organic label on products
  • Avoid the dirty dozen list whenever possible

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. USDA. Organic 101: What the USDA Organic Label Means. Accessed February 26, 2018