Organic Food

Grocery shopping for healthy foods, especially for the woman on-the-go, requires a lot of label reading—from calorie content and sugar quantities to natural ingredients and portion sizes. But when it comes to fresh produce, the label consumers need to keep an eye out for is the one containing a key word: Organic.

The battle of the benefits of organic food is a seemingly endless one. Are they really more nutritious? Are they safer? Do the advantages warrant the cost? Simply put, organic produce are grown without chemicals, hormones linked to cancer, pesticides, and drugs. But as far as nutrition is concerned, the jury is still out on the benefits.

On one hand, a recent meta-analysis study by Stanford University researchers found that conventional and organic foods are comparable in their nutrient content. On the other hand, a 2010 Washington State University study found that organic strawberries contained more vitamin C than conventional ones and a study by researchers at Columbia University found that pregnant women who were exposed to pesticides had children whose I.Q.’s were several points lower than their peers.

Best foods to buy organic

If you’re considering splurging for organic food, then opt for the foods that have the most pesticides. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has compiled a list of heavily pesticide-contaminated food—called the “dirty dozen”—which includes: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, imported nectarines, imported grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, domestic blueberries, green beans, and kale/greens. Additionally, the EWG compiled a list called the “clean 15” of produce that are the least contaminated. This list includes: onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, and kiwi.

And it’s not just produce. Experts advise consumers to purchase organic milk since conventional milk are loaded with pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics. When you consume conventional milk, those pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics are then transferred into your body.

Be sure to read labels

That all said, it’s also important to know how to read your labels. In accordance with The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations, anything that is 95 percent organic can use the term “organic.” If you think “natural” is synonymous with “organic,” then think again! The term “natural” simply means the food is minimally processed.

In a perfect world, all consumers would be able to afford and have access to only healthy and organic food. But for now, it seems consumers need to decide for themselves if buying organic food is in their budget and enough of a priority. And remember: If you can’t transition into a 100% organic lifestyle, or don’t believe organic food is better, then consider splurging for the items listed in EWG’s dirty dozen list.