I often get asked if all my food is organic and whilst I would love to be able to say yes, it is not that easy (or affordable!) to eat only organic food and to be honest, not everything has to be organic.
Let’s first look at what Organic actually means.
Organic food is the product of a farming system that avoids the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers. However, Organics is more than just ‘spray-free’ or ‘residue-free’. Organic farmers aim to produce healthy and nutritious food from a balanced living soil and any processing is designed to retain its natural goodness. The production of organic food focuses on looking after the environment.
What are the benefits of Organic produce?
Organic produce can have a major impact on your health as well as the environment. Organics often have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally-grown counterparts. Other benefits include:
Organic produce contains fewer chemicals and pesticides. Chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on and in the food we eat.
Organic produce is often fresher because it doesn’t contain preservatives that make it last longer.
Organic produce is GMO-free. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are plants whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering in ways that cannot occur in nature, most commonly in order to be resistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide.
Organic food can be expensive, however there are a number of ways to make it more economical. Many farmers that you find at farmers markets use organic practices so shopping at your local market and getting to know the farmers and the process they use is one option. You could also try growing your own produce, or using an online organic delivery system.
What to buy if you can’t afford to buy organic
If none of the above are options for you and you shop at the conventional supermarket, there is a produce list released annually which can give you some guidance. The Environmental Working Guide release a list known as the Clean 15. This list identifies the non-organic produce least likely to be contaminated with pesticides. If you are on a budget or your selection is limited, this list is a great place to start when choosing what produce is passable as non-organic. Many of these products have a thicker skin on them, which means their edible parts are protected from pesticides, meaning it’s safer for eating.
The Clean 15 2019 Foods List
8. Honeydew Melons
9. Kiwi Fruit
15. Sweet Peas (Frozen)
What produce to prioritise eating Organically?
The Environmental Working Group also releases a list known as the Dirty Dozen. This list ranks the top twelve fruits and veggies found to have the highest amount of pesticide residue, and therefore worth prioritising buying these in organic form, if nothing else. The Dirty Dozen can help you focus your attention on avoiding the most contaminated fruits and veggies.
The Dirty Dozen 2019 Foods List
So if buying all organic is not a realistic option for you, then it is worth focusing on those 12 products that are high in pesticides, and prioritising buying those in organic form.
It’s important to note that this list is updated every year, so make sure you are using the most recent release as it can vary from year to year.
Please let me be clear – these are not lists to say “eat more of this and less of that’. I believe all fruit and veggies are nature’s treat; small powerhouses filled with benefits for health, weight management, and long-term chronic disease risk. Therefore, I recommend using these lists as a guide to help you allocate your food budget to the foods that should be bought organically, and which foods have less pesticides and chemical sprays and are ok to buy conventionally if your budget doesn’t allow.
If you need any help navigating your way through organic vs conventional food, or would like to discuss this or any further health issues, please click on the FREE 15 Min Consult tab at the top of the site and we can chat!