When considering whether to buy organic foods, take into account these factors:
Source: Adapted from Mayo Clinic
- Nutrition. There is no conclusive evidence to show that organic food is more nutritious than conventionally grown food.
- Quality and appearance. Organic foods meet the same quality and safety standards as conventional foods. The difference lies in how the food is produced, processed and handled. You may find that organic fruits and vegetables spoil faster or aren’t as “perfect” looking because they aren’t treated with waxes or preservatives. In most cases, however, organic foods look identical to their conventional counterparts.
- Pesticides. Conventional growers use pesticides to protect their crops from molds, insects and diseases. When farmers spray pesticides, this can leave residue on produce. Some people buy organic food to limit their exposure to these residues. Most experts agree, however, that the amount of pesticides found on fruits and vegetables poses a very small health risk.
- Environment. Some people buy organic food for environmental reasons. Organic farming practices aim to benefit the environment by reducing pollution and conserving water and soil.
- Cost. Higher prices for organic products are due to more expensive farming practices, tighter government regulations and lower crop yields. Because organic farmers don’t use herbicides or pesticides, many management tools that control weeds and pests, are labor intensive (i.e.: hand weeding).
- Taste. Some people say they can taste the difference between organic and nonorganic food. Others say they find no difference. Taste is a subjective and personal consideration, so decide for yourself. But whether you buy organic or not, finding the freshest foods available may have the biggest impact on taste.
- Additives. Conventional farmers give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth. These elements can be found in the meat and dairy products we consume. Organic farmers give animals organic feed, allow them access to the outdoors, and they use preventive measures—such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet, and clean housing—to help minimize disease. In terms of health risk when eating conventionally raised meat and dairy products, it is common for a doctor to recommend eating organic meat and dairy products when possible.