Ask your chiropractor: How important is it to eat organic food?
We have been hearing about how important it is to eat organic food for some time now. It is popular enough that it is easier to find, but there have been some studies that suggest that it is less important than we thought. Is it worth the extra money, or is it a fad?
Nutritionally speaking, there is a wide range of difference between one vegetable and another, and all of the factors that influence that fact are not known. It may have something to do with whether it is organic or not, and be influenced by the biodiversity of the soil. It may have to do with the weather, or with when it is harvested, or with how long it sits before it is consumed.
Conventionally grown foods do contain pesticide residues, but those residues are well below the threshold set by the USDA for healthy adults. Whether the USDA is working with unbiased and well-researched data is another topic, but it can be assumed there are no outright hazardous results from eating conventional produce.
Certainly if the choice comes down to a conventionally produced vegetable or a processed food, there are no comparisons. Eating more fruits and vegetables will have a positive effect on your life, even if they aren’t organic.
There are still some compelling reasons to buy organic food, however. Organic food is better for the environment, and caring for our soil, water, and air has a beneficial effect on our health. Organic food is also better for the people who are raising and harvesting it, because although there are thresholds for EATING pesticides, the people handling that food in the field are exposed to far more of them on a daily basis. And it has been shown that eating a 100% organic diet does in fact reduce the amount of pesticide in your body, and a body without a buildup of chemicals is at less risk than one accumulating chemicals.
While there may not be much of a difference in nutrition when it comes to the macronutrients in produce, there has also been evidence that when it comes to micronutrients (which are often the substances providing anti-cancer benefits), organic produce does have higher numbers of phenols and phytochemicals. There is a connection between the flavors and colors of foods and the protective benefits they offer, and organic produce is more likely to come from more diverse genetic stock and therefore offer a greater array of those micronutrients.
Finally, organic produce does taste better, and it may encourage you to eat more veggies if you love the way they taste. To spend time and money to find the freshest, local, organic produce will mean that you are eating the best tasting fruits and vegetables you can find, and we are more likely to eat things that taste good!
In conclusion, if you can’t afford to eat everything organic, try to choose fruits and vegetables, especially those on the dirty dozen list. Every year the Environmental Working Group releases a list of the fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated by pesticides, and also a list of those least likely to contain pesticide residues. This is a great guide for where to spend your dollars when you just can’t do it all.
The 2019 Dirty Dozen list (foods most contaminated by pesticides) contains: strawberries, kale, spinach, nectarines, apples, potatoes, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, and celery. These are the foods to focus on buying organic in order to reduce your consumption of pesticides and pesticide residue. Again, if you can’t afford to go organic, it is still more healthy to eat fruits and vegetables than not to eat them! If you are concerned, take a peek at the clean fifteen least and try to choose those more often than things on the dirty dozen list.
The 2019 Clean Fifteen list (foods least contaminated by pesticides) contains: avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, frozen sweet peas, onions, papayas, eggplant, asparagus, kiwis, cabbages, cauliflower, cantaloupe, broccoli, mushrooms, and honeydew. These are great choices to increase the number of fruits and vegetables in your diet and to save your extra pennies to spring for the organic strawberries.
Your chiropractor is an excellent source of nutrition information, and is there to help you maximize your health in every way.