The Health Benefits of Organic Foods

Are Organically Grown Foods Better for You?

There is a widespread belief that organic foods are healthier than conventionally grown foods. This article explores which type of food is safer.

Before we can address the benefits of organic food over conventionally grown food, we need to define what organic means. Organic food is grown with no chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizer, or growth hormones. To earn the US Department of Agriculture organic label, foods must have 95% organic ingredients. For a food to be labeled “made with organic ingredients,” it must contain 70% organic ingredients. Non organic foods are raised conventionally with the addition of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and growth hormones.

Are Organic Foods More Nutritious?

Much research has been done on the health benefits of organic food but, according to some, there is no scientific evidence to prove that organic food is any better for you than food that is conventionally grown. In a September 4, 2008 article, The Atlanta Journal Constitution cites a report from America’s Organic Trade Association that claims, “Organic fruits and vegetables contain 25% more nutrients than conventionally grown produce.” However, this claim is refuted by a number of scientific studies like a 2002 review of all studies done on the nutritional values of organic food which found no proof that organic food was more nutritious than conventionally grown food.

Are Organic Foods Safer?

It is generally believed that the lack of synthetic pesticidal residues on organically grown produce definitely makes for a safer product. According to the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program, 90% or more of conventionally grown apples, peaches, pears and strawberries have pesticide residues. In her book, Sara Snow’s Fresh Living, Snow says, “While it is difficult to point to pesticides as the sole cause of any disease, the consensus among many public health scientists is that pesticide exposure, especially in combination with other variables, could trigger developmental problems and other illnesses in otherwise healthy people.”

Can Organic Foods Cure Cancer?

Among proponents of eating an organic diet is a group who believes that healthy eating can not only prevent cancer but cure it. There is a raft of information on the topic, both pro and con, with no real definitive evidence either way. Sara Snow offers one take on the issue, “I don’t know about you, but if something in and on certain foods could lead to developmental problems and illness, then I’m going to find a way to eat around it.”

The Twelve Dirtiest Fruits and Vegetables

Recently, the Environmental Working Group, a non partisan/non profit health and environmental research organization, put out a list called “The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” based on studies of pesticide levels on and in common fruits and vegetables. From the results, the EWG put together two lists – the twelve cleanest – those with the lowest levels of pesticides and twelve dirtiest, those with the highest levels – fruits and vegetables. It is recommended that consumers buy the twelve on the dirty list – also known as the dirty dozen – organic to cut down on their consumption of pesticides

The Dirty Dozen

Peaches
Apples
Sweet Bell Peppers
Grapes
Spinach
Lettuce
Potatoes
Celery
Nectarines
Strawberries
Cherries
Pears

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