I’ve recently been dispelling a lot of myths related to organic food when talking to families. Many people associate the word “organic” with “healthy.” Of course, some organic foods fit that bill, but definitely not all. Today, I want to give you the breakdown about what “organic” actually means and how to make educated choices when at the grocery store.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that “organic” foods are grown and processed according to certain federal guidelines: animal products are not given any antibiotics or growth hormones, and plant foods are grown without conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, bio-engineering or ionizing radiation. At this point we don’t know all the long-term health consequences of eating conventionally grown and processed foods.
So why wouldn’t we buy 100% organic food? An article from Today’s Dietitian reminds us that there is no evidence that organic foods are generally healthier than their conventional counterparts. We also have to consider a big factor in this debate: cost. Organic foods have been shown to cost 20% to 100% more than their conventional counterparts. At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong answer. Use the above information to decide what is most realistic for your family. For those families who want to consider buying some organic foods but can’t go entirely organic, I recommend starting with the Dirty Dozen, a list of produce that contains the highest amount of pesticides. If money is no object (doesn’t that sound nice?), then feel free to go full force organic!
The bottom line: When it comes to purchasing food, the priority is always to choose a variety of protein foods, grains, fruits and vegetables. If buying those organic apples means that you can’t afford to bring home the carrots and the whole wheat bread that your family needs, then don’t worry about buying non-organic apples. Even if it doesn’t have that “organic” stamp, your family members are still getting the nutrition they need. And lastly, just because those cookies, cakes and juices are marked as “organic,” it does not mean they are any healthier!