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Organic or Non-Organic Produce?

Always a dilemma… Do I pay twice as much for organic produce or hope that the lesser expensive non-organic produce isn’t really diminishing my health?

A recent review of the benefits of organic produce over non-organic foods found that “Organic produce and grains contain more protective antioxidants, less pesticide residue and lower levels of the toxic metal “cadmium” than traditionally grown foods”.

The study, published in the July, 2014 edition of British Journal of Nutrition summarized the results of 343 peer-reviewed studies.  They reported the concentration of antioxidant levels were 17-69% higher in organic crops compared to traditionally grown crops.  Some antioxidants such as flavanones, flavonols and anthocyanins were significantly higher, possibly due to different fertilization methods. 

Pesticide residue was found to be four times higher in non-organic crops.  Specifically, levels of cadmium, a toxic metal contaminant, were 50% lower in organic crops than conventional foods.

Antioxidants are thought to protect the body’s cells from damage due to smoking, stress, and lessen the production of free radicals that are implicated in causing cancer.

If you’re on the proverbial garden fence, consider buying organic produce and grains when financially feasible.  You may think about purchasing traditionally grown produce when it’s a food that you remove the outer peel or skin before eating.  Most pesticides reside on the peel or skin, although some residue may permeate thinner skins and enter through the stem.  Traditionally grown produce that you typically will remove the peel includes:  bananas, oranges, lemons and limes (unless you’re using the zest), pineapples, kiwis, mangoes and avocados. Cabbage and broccoli are vegetables that contain the lowest pesticide levels because they are grown in cooler weather before pests hit with force.

Recommnended Fruits to Purchase Organic  

  • Apples, top the list
  • Celery
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Hot peppers
  • Nectarines (if imported from outside the U.S.)
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Kale/Collard Greens
  • Blueberries
  • Summer squash

Least likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet corn
  • Sweet Peas
  • Sweet Potatoes
     

Jan Phillips, M.Ed.