What to buy organic: The Dirty Dozen

To buy organic or not…that is the question. There is a ton of confusion swirling around whether or not it genuinely matters when it comes to buying organic foods or NOT. Questions like “what in the world does it even mean for something to BE organic….and “why should I really care?” are popular ones I hear a ton. Oh and not mention this one: “why in the world does it cost so much?” So, since I recently addressed this topic in one of my fit groups, I figured I could share with you guys too! I want to break it down for you guys from what I shop for and what you can look for on your next grocery shopping trip.

Organic Vs. Conventional Vs. Non-GMO (GMO=Genetically Modified)

Some important terms to remember:

“Organically grown” refers to the way crops and livestock are grown and processed. They are to be grown in safe soil, with no modifications and must remain separate from conventionally grown produce. They are grown naturally without the need for pesticides or chemical fertilizers.

“Conventionally grown” refers to produce that is grown using fertilizers and pesticides which allow for out of season growth, greater resistance to weather conditions/transportation damage, greater longevity and a generally greater quantity.

“Genetically Modified”, or GMO refers to produce that has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. These are usually engineered crops like soybean, corn and canola or fish. These groups of produce/fish have had major changes to their DNA. (I.E> avoid these at all costs!)

Sometimes it’s hard to decide whether or not you should spend the extra money on buying organic produce over the conventionally grown fruits and veggies. I can definitely say when you buy organic, the taste is usually the major giveaway as it’s usually more flavorful and in general 10 times better. But, there’s definitely much-much more to it than just the taste on the importance scale of buying organic or conventionally grown.

Did you guys know, that more than 400 chemical pesticides are used in conventional farming and those residues can remain on non-organic food even after washing? Those pesticides have been linked to developmental problems in children, and they may even act as carcinogens or throw off the endocrine systems. One type of pesticide known as “Organophosphates” are endocrine disruptors and neurotoxins (a poison that acts on the body’s nervous system). Endocrine disputers are chemicals that can interfere with the body’s endocrine system to cause adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune effects in the human body. One of the most popular food crop pesticides, “Dow Chemical’s Chlorpyrifos” is the second most common pesticide residue found on food DESPITE being a serious health hazard and even being BANNED in household cleaning products since the early 2000’s. Over 5 MILLION pounds are sprayed each and every year. There have been several studies shown over the last 15 years that prove that Chlorpyrifos can cause organ damage, mental disorders, learning disabilities, autism and can even affect IQ.

Now saying all of that, there are a few key things to remember when buying organic vs. non-organic/non-gmo foods. You aren’t just needing to make a giant overhaul of your grocery store shopping trips. There are some fruits and veggies that are completely fine to buy and consume that are conventionally grown. ((Plus, when it comes down to it, eating conventionally-grown produce is better than not eating fruits and veggies at all.)) It’s just super important to pay attention and be aware of what we’re consuming each day, rather than blindly taking in all sorts of chemicals that our bodies don’t necessarily need to be digesting on a regular basis.

Check out this list of the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen”. This list breaks down what fruits and veggies are the best to buy organic vs. the foods that are fine to buy conventionally grown. You’ll want to buy the foods on the “Dirty Dozen” list organic when possible. These foods have skins that are most absorbent to the pesticides and chemical sprays that don’t simply wash off. The “Clean Fifteen” foods are produce that you are okay buying conventional and cleaning them off. The easiest way to remember these is to usually think that the foods that you eat the skins of (apples, strawberries, grapes), are best to buy organic because they’re being sprayed right on the top of the skins that we will be consuming. But, the foods that you can peel off the skins, (oranges, bananas, kiwi, watermelon) are okay to buy conventional because we’re not consuming those peels.

When you are cleaning off your produce, just rinse them in a few tablespoons of baking soda and cold water. This will help rid them of any pesticides and dirt.

The best thing you can do when it comes to buying fruits/veggies/organic livestock is to buy local. This not only helps support your local farming community but it’s also less transportation time for your food to get to you. This helps avoid chances of transportation damage, less time in a heated truck mid summer feeding germs and who knows what else! By choosing to buy local, your money stays within your community and goes straight to the farmer instead of major companies that have to pay for marketing campaigns and distribution. It’s also more fresh as it’s usually picked in season then shipped out immediately to you when they’re ripe and full of flavor and nutrients. As organic farming is more labor intensive for these farmers because they don’t use pesticides or chemical fertilizers, the cost of organic food makes more sense. These farms are usually smaller than major conventional ones so that means they’re too small to receive any sort of government assistance or subsidies so they rely on their local communities to keep them growing. It also costs a pretty penny to be a certified organic farm, and becoming an organic livestock farm is sometimes twice the cost of produce farming. Because of these differences between organic and conventional, sometimes organic foods can get a bad reputation for being too costly for your average person. But, that doesn’t always have to be the case. >>When you can– buy local, stick to the “Clean fifteen” when you buy conventional and most importantly remember the health benefits of eating organic.<<

Also, check out the picture showing what your fruit stickers mean. You know, those annoying little fruit stickers that suck to peel off? Yeah…they actually have a significant purpose!

I hope this info helps you guys out a bit and explains a little bit more of what the importance and the differences mean between buying organic vs. conventional produce. Maybe next time you’re shopping at the grocery store, you can take this tidbit of information with you! I know it’s a lot of information, but these health benefits are too important to pass up. Sadly, chemicals and dangerous poisons do exist in our foods today and as much as we can avoid them, we should! Our health matters! So any and all practices to keep our bodies functioning at their optimal levels, we should take seriously!

Questions for YOU:

Have you guys ever had trouble deciding when to buy which?

Have you noticed any differences between the taste in the two?

What’s your favorite organic produce?

As always, From Chelsea