Thursday, August 11, 2011

Organic Vs Conventional

By Rossana Rutledge, RD, LD

There is actually no right or wrong answer here. We still don’t have enough evidence to claim that organic foods provide more nutritional value than conventional foods. The most important decision you should make towards a better health is to make sure you eat a healthy balance diet.  Your diet should be rich in fruits and vegetables. The health benefits of fruits & vegetables will outweigh any risks due to synthetic pesticide exposure.
Here is an approach that most experts (including myself) advocate for those of you who want to keep the balance between both.  Start by replacing the most pesticide-heavy fruits or vegetables with their organic equivalent. Recently, The Environmental Working Group published two new lists: “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15” (formally called the “dirty dozen” and the ‘Consistently Clean’). These lists show which foods consistently scored the highest in pesticide levels and toxicity and which scored the lowest.

Dirty Dozen – Buy This Organic
Clean 15 – Lowest Pesticides
1    Apples
1    Onions
2    Celery
2    Corn
3    Strawberry
3    Pineapples
4    Peaches
4    Avocado
5    Spinach
5    Asparagus
6    Nectarines – Imported
6    Sweet Peas
7    Grapes – Imported
7    Mangoes
8    Sweet Bell Peppers
8    Eggplant
9    Potatoes
9    Cantaloupe – Domestic
10  Blueberries – Domestic
10  Kiwi
11  Lettuce
11   Cabbage
12  Kale/collard greens
12   Watermelon

13   Sweet Potatoes

14  Grapefruit

15  Mushrooms

Source: Environmental Working Group. To download a free EWG’s shopper’s guide visit their website at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/

If you can afford them, I encourage you to try organic foods. They are worth buying & eating for the following reasons:

·         You will avoid high concentration of possible harmful synthetic pesticides/ synthetic fertilizers as well as fruits & vegetables that have been irradiated or  genetically modified (GMOs and the technologies involved are still very controversial).

·         Organic farmers raise their animals on 100% organic diet (most of the time vegetarian diet). They don’t use growth hormones, antibiotics or other drugs; organic meat is not irradiated. For example: organic dairy products come from animals that are fed 100% organic diet and were not treated with antibiotics or growth hormones like rBST.

·         You want organic products for environmental reasons. According to USDA guidelines, organic farming practices are designed to reduce pollution and conserve water and soil. For example, they are required to use organic pesticides (derived from natural sources and processed lightly).

·         Personally, I think they taste better!  If you don’t believe me, try this: buy organic & conventional milk at the same time. Pour ½ cup of each, smell them first. Then taste them. See?

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