It’s not ground-breaking to hear that eating organic is good for you. In fact, it’s probably the piece of health advice that the majority of people are already aware of. But WHY is it good for you? What makes it so impactful and beneficial for long lasting health and wellness? Is it really worth the extra cost? The short answer: yes. And eating organic is not limited to just your produce! Think about herbs and spices, animal products, packaged goods and their ingredients, whole grains, and even your wine. While it may not always be financially feasible to buy everything organic, you can still impact your health in a positive way just by making the switch with a few different food groups.
So, what’s the harm in conventional food products? Many people like to argue that the nutritional value of conventional vs. organic food is the exact same. According to multiple studies, this is supposedly true. The issue with conventional food isn’t with its nutritional value. The issue is the added chemicals, synthetic compounds, hormones, and antibiotics that are disrupting not just our environment, but our health.
Did you know: The U.S. uses 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides a year, but only a mere .01 percent actually reach the intended target: bugs. And where do the rest go? Our food, air, and water. Mmm, tasty!
Pesticides, which are now present in 70 percent of produce in the U.S., are linked to cancer, hormone and metabolic disruption, blood disorders, reproduction effects, and neurological disorders. Oh, goody! Researchers out of the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at San Francisco conducted a study that followed four families from different backgrounds. Each family ate a conventional diet for 6 days, then an organic diet for 6 days. Urine samples before and after going all-out organic showed massive drops in bodily pesticides, including a 95% drop in a toxin called malathion. This toxin is linked to brain damage in children.
A recent study in France found a 25% reduction in cancer levels after including more organic foods in the diet, while another study linked organic food with improved fertility rates. (!!!) It’s incredible what some pesky unseen chemicals can do to our bodies over time. In this case, ‘out of sight out of mind’ is not a mindset you should keep. Some produce samples can contain more than 50 different types of pesticides. The Environmental Working Group’s most recent total analysis of USDA data identified 225 different pesticides on grocery store produce – all of which were found after produce was washed in cold water for 15-29 seconds, and if applicable, peeled.
Are you ready to buy organic yet?
So which foods should you always buy organic, and which can you get away with buying as conventional? You’re probably familiar with the EWG’s Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen lists. These are great guidelines to follow when starting out! Some foods on the Dirty Dozen list include strawberries, spinach, kale, grapes, apples, tomatoes, potatoes, and peaches. Check out the rest of the lists at EWG’s website to get started: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/. If you’re concerned about spending extra money on organic food products, put it in perspective. It’s worth it to spend an extra few dollars now, rather than spend hundreds of thousands of dollars years down the road at your doctor’s office. So get shopping!