Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Truth About Organic

So I wanted to clear something up... A month or so ago, organic produce took a hit in the news because a study found that organic produce is no more nutritious than conventional produce treated with pesticides. Unfortunately, this story may have deterred people from buying organic fruits and vegetables because the way it was presented made it seem like organic produce is no different from regular produce. Why would you spend the extra money that organic food sometimes costs when it is no more healthy than regular food? Well, actually it is more healthy for you. There is a difference between healthy and nutritious. When you talk about the nutrition of something, you're talking about the beneficial nutrients it can provide you with... vitamins, minerals, etc. So two apples, for example, taken from the same orchard are going to give you the same nutrition whether one was treated with pesticides or not. Healthy, on the other hand, means that you can eat a food without it causing harm to your body. By that definition, eating produce containing pesticide residues is not healthy. Conventional produce, mostly from factory farms and especially produce imported from other countries, is known to contain these residues. (Don't believe me? Just ask and I'll find you a scientific paper that supports my case). So along with the nutrients in a conventional apple, you could be getting doses of pesticides that cause cancer, endocrine disruption, and who knows what else.

Really, when you think about it, this story didn't need to be on the news. It's not some amazing discovery. I could have told you that organic and conventional produces have the same nutritional value without doing any studies. DUH. So instead of presenting both sides to this story, the news stations just confused people and probably stopped some of them from buying organic food.

Now, there is a difference in nutrition between local produce and produce imported from far away places, whether it is organic or not. Imported produce, whether it be organic apples imported to New Jersey from Washington or conventional grapes imported to the United States from Chile, is not as nutritious as local produce. When you buy imported produce, it has usually been stored and shipped for long periods of time. (And now I can mention another environmental problem... How much fuel is used to ship produce?) It loses its nutritional value during this time. Things break down and degrade.When you eat local produce, you are getting the maximum amount of nutrients because there has not been enough time for sufficient nutrient loss. That's why it is better to go to farmers markets, farms, local orchards, etc. for your produce. Sometimes even supermarkets will work with local farms and sell their produce in the store; you just have to find out if this is the case at your supermarket. And local, small farms typically use more organic practices, less amounts of pesticides, and less dangerous pesticides.

Well, I hope that clears that up. In short, buy local, and when you can, buy produce that is both local and organic!

1 comment:

  1. More on nutrient loss...