Do you ever wonder if buying organic really matters? We decided to do some research and help you see the differences between organic and non-organic produce.
Some of you might wonder whether it’s worth it to buy organic simply because you question what the label actually means. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has constructed a strict organic certification program requiring all organic foods to meet their government standards. Farmers or food manufacturers who label or sell any product as organic must meet these standards by being USDA certified. All producers are required to sell more than $5,000 a year in organic foods, otherwise, their certification is unobtainable. This information is helpful to those who might question the authenticity of the organic label.
Below is a chart showing the different levels of organic labels, which you can keep an eye out for while shopping. You’ll probably see “100% Organic” on a lot of fresh produce, and; “Organic” can be found on foods beyond just the produce section. “Made with Organic Ingredients” is on a lot of packaged foods. Food Labels can be confusing, so let's break it down!
Lots of research shows that organic food does have a higher nutritional value than non-organic foods. However, most studies found that organic foods don’t have many more vitamins and minerals than non-organic. Organic food is found to have a higher percentage of antioxidants, and the antioxidants can be as much as 20-40% higher in organic foods. Furthermore, some people choose to buy organic simply because of the guarantee that there is less exposure to pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, and heavy metals.
Knowing that organic food is shown to have more nutritious value, wouldn’t you want to consume the highest quality foods? Even starting out buying just a few organic items could be beneficial in the long run.
You might be wondering if going organic means buying absolutely everything organic. We found the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, along with their Clean 15 list; both are updated annually, making it easy to determine which fruits and vegetables are better bought organic.
The experts in this nonprofit organization share which produce items have been found to contain the highest traces of pesticides used in commercial farming — the Dirty Dozen list. This is great information to keep on hand if you want to avoid the foods with the most pesticides, and if it’s overwhelming to purchase all organic foods this is an especially helpful guide to get you started.
Most of the time, the pesticide residue is far below safety guidelines, and experts will continue to express that vegetables and fresh produce of all varieties (whether organic or not) are important (non-organic vegetables are better than no vegetables at all).
The EWG also gives a list of 15 fruits and vegetables that are found to have little to no pesticides, which is a helpful indicator that you don’t have to buy all organic produce (unless you decide to do so).
When purchasing non-organic produce pay attention to the label and where the produce is coming from; some countries have banned genetically modified (GMO) crops.