With so many conflicting opinions about organic vs. nonorganic foods, many people have asked me recently if choosing organic foods over non-organic foods is healthier in terms of nutrition.
My answer is No.
I have researched this question myself and gathered information from the USDA, the FDA, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (see sources below). All sources state that organic foods do not contain a greater nutritional value than non-organic foods. Both foods contain the same amount of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals...etc. Organic does not describe the nutritional content of a food; rather, it describes how the food was handled.
Why Choose Organic Then?
People will choose organic foods for a variety of reasons. The major reason is because they do not want to have pesticides, fertilizers, or preservatives sprayed onto their foods. Similarly, another reason is to avoid genetically-modified foods (GMOs), which are foods that have had their DNA manually engineered by companies to produce variations of preexisting foods that would not occur in a natural growing process. Lastly, another reason is that people would like to the environment, as well as supporting local farmers that produce organic foods.
Why To Not Choose Organic?
- Organic foods are more expensive than non-organic foods. (See section below for tips about saving money and buying organic)
- Some organic foods may expire more quickly than non-organic foods because they do not contain the preservatives that make them last longer.
- Some organic foods may not appear as polished or shiny as non-organic foods because their natural appearances are not altered by chemical waxes. Additionally, because organic foods are not genetically-modified, they will appear smaller than purposefully enlarged non-organic foods.
Having Trouble Affording Organic Foods?
Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) produces a special list of foods called "The Dirty Dozen." Of all of the foods to be bought organic, the foods on this list are the most important. The list is shown below. These foods were picked because they have a thin and permeable skin around the fruit or vegetable itself. Therefore, if these foods were sprayed with harmful chemicals, these could be transferred directly to the part of the fruit that we would consume. As you will notice, foods with tougher skin layers, such as bananas or pineapples, are not on this list because the chemicals will most likely not penetrate into the edible fruit itself. Therefore, if you would like to purchase organic foods while saving some money, start with choosing the organic foods on this list first.
Remember, the decision is ultimately up to you and your beliefs, morals, and passions regarding the environment and food safety. For more information about organic foods, please fill free to visit the following references, or contact me with any questions!
- Dangour, A. Dodhia, S. Hayter, A. Lock, K. Uauy, R. Nutritional quality of systematic foods. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2 July 2009 (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2009/07/29/ajcn.2009.28041.short).
- Organic nutrition labels. USDA-FDA.com. 2012. http://usda-fda.com/organic-nutrition.htm
- Watson, S.Organic food no more nutritious than conventionally grown food. 5 September 2012. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/organic-food-no-more-nutritious-than-conventionally-grown-food-201209055264