Fitness and Nutrition — By Ben on 30 July 2008
Organic or not. 13 things to consider

Organic foods seem to be everywhere nowadays. Most grocery stores now have an organic section and specialty stores like Whole Foods sell only organic food. I have been debating if paying more for organic food is worth it. That’s why I made some research about it and this are some of the things I learned:

  1. The word “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products (fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat) Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution.
  2. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don’t use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. For example, instead of using chemical weedkillers, organic farmers conduct sophisticated crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds at bay.
  3. Organic farmers give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. They use preventive measures, such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing, to help minimize disease.
  4. Not everything that claims to be organic is. The foods that are 100 percent organic carry the USDA Organic sticker (here in the U.S). However, other products can show the stickers if they are at least 95% organic (labeled as organic) or products which 70% of their ingredients are organic (labeled as made with organic ingredients).
  5. The quality and appearance of organic food meet the same quality and safety standards as conventional foods.
  6. Most organic food costs more than conventional food products. Higher prices are due to more expensive farming practices, tighter government regulations and lower crop yields.
  7. A lot of people buy organic to reduce their exposure to pesticides. A report by the Texas Department of Agriculture indicates that conventional produce was eight times more likely to have pesticide residue than organic. However, of the few samples in which a residue was found, the amount was negligible (between 1 and 5 percent of government standards)
  8. Every day, each of us eats a quarter of a teaspoonful of carcinogens. 99.99% of these are made naturally by all plants to inhibit disease organisms and deter consumption by animals and insects.
  9. No conclusive evidence shows that organic food is more nutritious than conventionally grown food. The USDA doesn’t claim that these products are safer or more nutritious.
  10. Because organic farmers rely on cow and pig manure for fertilizer, organic foods are vulnerable to bacterial contamination.
  11. Organic poultry have higher rates of bacterial contamination than conventional poultry due to their higher exposure to wild bird droppings.
  12. Some people claim that organic food tastes better than conventional food, but this is a very subjective claim so decide for yourself.
  13. Whether you buy organic or not you might want to consider: buying the freshest food that is in season, read the labels and wash all fruits and vegetables before consumption.

There you have it, 13 facts that might help you decide whether to buy organic or not. I think this is a personal decision that has to be taken after taking all the facts into cosideration. As always:

¡Buen provecho!

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grew up around food. His family owned a restaurant in Mexico City and he spent a big deal of his childhood helping and learning after school the art of creating delicious dishes from simple ingredients. He created this blog to share his kitchen adventures with the world.

(17) Readers Comments

  1. Where I live organic is so not an option – unless you want a few ugly looking potatoes, and some wilted celery.

    SJR
    The Pink Flamingo

  2. I’ll eat just about anything, so organic isn’t something that I look for on purpose.

    My 13 is posted…drop by and have a laugh or two! Won’t you?

  3. I thought that organic food was more expensive because it’s not subsidized by the government – which means that farmers must get conventional loans and financing. (Not to mention the actual money in subsidies.) I do love organic food – have my own organic French Intensive Garden in our back yard. mmmmmm

  4. I love organic foods and I go to “Wild Oats” and “Whole Foods” whenever I get the chance. Thanks for sharing.

  5. this was very informative. i always wondered why organic was more expensive. i love central market and whole foods. they sell both organic and non-organic. i just like to eat fresh produce that’s in season, whether it’s organic or not.

  6. #10 is the one that concerns me. We have quite a few organic farmers at our farmers market this year. Having grown up with farming myself, I admit to looking a bit too closely at the farmer and the apparent cleanliness of his display and his vehicle before deciding whether or not I want the produce he’s offering. His gardening practices aren’t likely to be any more careful than his presentation…

  7. I think organic foods are best since no pesticides are used. I am considering growing my own veggies and fruits.

    My 34th TT is up: 13 comments you can make to your physician while he’s performing a colonoscopy on you. Here’s the link.

  8. Good list, Ben. I buy it when I can, and when I can’t, consider what I’m putting in my bag. It certainly is more healthy than a three-layer cake filled with butter cream and nuts. Okay, so now that I think of it, the nuts were organic. But not the buttah. I’m just sayin’. Mwah.

  9. Hey, thanks for the info! I have been doing a little sleuthing lately to decide if organic is worth it, as well… And I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. Certain foods are more vulnerable to absorbing pesticides and the like (i.e., tomatoes and berries), so if you can’t afford to buy all your food organic (or don’t want to, for whatever other reason… such as the interesting fact you posted about organic food being more vulnerable to bacterial contamination) and are going to pick, these are some that should top the list. Good topic, informative and relevant. Thanks!
    Happy TT~ come by and visit if you get the chance :)

  10. Really interesting list Ben.

    I’ve never fussed too much about buying organic – but I do try to buy fresh, from local producers, and always, always free-range for livestock/dairy… :)

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