Is Organic Really Worth The Hype?
I feel like today there is no shortage of people telling us that we should be choosing organic foods. And unfortunately, I think there is so much marketing that is trying to reel us in that sometimes we question, is this just a gimmick? You might be thinking, but Dakota, organic is so much more expensive. Or maybe you live in an area where organic is just not that accessible. I want to give you some of the nitty gritty details on what it means to be organic and what the differences that you are paying for are.
Overall, organic means that the food is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers or genetically modified crops. In terms of produce, organic means that it was grown on soil that has been without prohibited synthetic fertilizers and pesticides for at least 3 years. When it comes to packaged and processed foods, organic means that it does not contain artificial preservatives, color or flavors. All ingredients that go into the food must also be organic. For meat and other animal products, the regulations require that animals are raised in living conditions that are innate to their natural behaviors (for example: ability to graze on a pasture), they are fed 100% organic feed, and they are not given any hormones or antibiotics.
Now that you know what it means to be organic I want to talk about why this matters. Our modern farming practices tend to focus on size, pest control, growth rate and production, which has greatly impacted the quality. Our food just doesn't have the nutrients that it used to. We have seen significant declines in many essential nutrients because of these practice in our fruits and vegetables. We are seeing decreased amounts of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and vitamin c just to name a few. Our animal based foods also have seen significant declines in nutrient quality because of these practices. Pasture raised eggs have been found to have much higher nutrient properties than factory farmed eggs. Similar differences can seen when comparing grass-fed beef and grain-fed. Of course the meat and the eggs from these animals are going to be much more nutrient rich if they are actually able to eat the foods they are meant to eat, get sunshine, exercise, and are not stressed to the max. This is what made the biggest impact on my decision to choose organic animal products. If I am going to be feeding my family these foods I want us to actually get the max amount of nutrients that we can, rather than just filling our bellies. The second important thing to think about while talking about animal products is the use of antibiotics. This focus on production has led to an increase in animals getting antibiotics because of their living conditions and stress. Unfortunately, we are consuming this antibiotic residue in their products, which is leading to disruptions in our gut microbiome, allergies and antibiotic resistance. The last thing I want to address is the use of pesticides. The use of pesticides has increased by over 25 times over the last 70 years and has been linked with elevated cancer risk, metabolic disruptions, reproductive disruptions, immune, nervous system and endocrine dysfunctions.
Let's talk about what you should be purchasing organic and what doesn’t need to necessarily be purchased organic when it comes to produce. Thankfully this can be easily broken down into the clean fifteen and the dirty dozen. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a company that does the research on which produce contains the most amount of pesticides and releases a new list each year. The dirty dozen are the 12 foods that contain the most amount of pesticides and ideally you should be purchasing organic. This years foods include Strawberries, Spinach, Kale, collar & mustard greens, peaches, pears, nectarines, apples, grapes, Bell & Hot peppers, Cherries, Blueberries and Green beans. I definitely recommend that you start by prioritizing purchasing these foods organic. The clean 15 on the other hand is the list of foods that contain the least amount of pesticides and don’t necessarily need to be purchased organic. Much of the time this has to do with the hard outer covering of the produce or how it is grown. This years foods include: avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, onions, papaya, sweet peas (frozen), asparagus, honeydew melon, kiwi, cabbage, mushrooms, mangoes, sweet potatoes, watermelon & carrots. These are foods that you do not need to worry about purchasing organic (obviously unless you would prefer to, which is never a bad thing).
In terms of the other organic foods that I mentioned including processed foods and animal products I really recommend obviously looking at your food budget and the foods that you are consuming the most of. If you do eggs every day or on a regular basis then you bet I would recommend prioritizing that food as organic so that you know that you are getting the most amount of nutrients and bang for your buck.If you are able to prioritize organic meat for your family, then yes I would recommend it. Thankfully more and more stores are making this more affordable and accessible–we like to purchase our meat from Costco, but Aldi also has some great deals at times as well. And if you can, go for that local farmer! For packaged foods, again I would prioritize the foods that you are consuming on a regular basis. Any amount of pesticide ingestion that you can decrease is a win in my book!
Before we finish up I want to just address the topic of cost really quickly. I talked about what it means to be organic and you can see that the differences between organic and non-organic are clear and this is a heavily regulated industry so they can’t just make claims that are not true. I also talked about not only the nutrient quality that sets organic apart, but more importantly I talked about the impact that pesticides and antibiotics can have on our families health. It is scary to think how much the use of these things have increased since our parents were young, so just think about the research that is yet to be completed and what we are learning about the effects that these things are having for our children. I want you to pause and think about what you are spending your money on. No matter what our income level is I guarantee we are utilizing our money in places that we could allocate towards more nutritious foods for our families that will keep them healthy. That $5 Starbucks drink could easily be those more nutritious eggs. A trip to Mcdonalds for a family of 4 is easily $40 which more than covers the cost of the organic meat. That new shirt or shoes that you just had to have could be organic produce for the month. Is that netflix or disney plus subscription worth feeding your family foods that you know could be causing them harm? Just something to consider!
I hope you found this breakdown of organic foods beneficial and you learned something new. Again, I am all about progress and not perfection for our families and want you to have the tools to make well informed health & lifestyle decisions for your family! Cant wait to meet you back here next week!
Environmental Working Group- Dirty Dozen
Environmental Working Group - Clean Fifteen
Are you looking to improve you and your families digestion TODAY with 2 simple steps? Check out THIS FREE GUIDE!!
Disclaimer The information contained on Perfectly Unprepared is for informational and educational purposes only. The content solely represents the views and opinions of Perfectly Unprepared. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or heard on Perfectly Unprepared. Perfectly Unprepared hereby disclaims any and all liability to any party for any direct, indirect, implied, punitive, special, incidental, or other consequential damaged arising directly or indirectly from any use of the content which is provided as is, and without warranties.