Should I Spend the Extra Money on an Organic Diet?

Should I Spend the Extra Money on an Organic Diet?

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

While shopping at any grocery store these days, you’ll notice more and more aisles full of organic foods. Many people swear by their organic diet, but is it worth spending the extra money?

To fully answer that and understand the truth about organic foods, it’s best to examine the fine print on their labels – and to learn what organics truly are and what they are not. 

When a product is labeled as organic, is it healthier than a non-organic food? And what exactly does an “organic” label mean for the food that carries the label?

How Organic Food Is Produced

For a food to be labeled as organic, it must meet certain criteria – like being free of any artificial additives. Most organically grown foods tend to use all-natural fertilizers, like manure for fertilizer for plant growth, but zero pesticides.

Animals that are certified organic cannot be given antibiotics or hormones. They must also be fed an all-organic diet themselves.

Benefits of an Organic Diet 

There are certain benefits that come from consuming organic foods. When something is labeled as USDA-certified organic, it contains zero genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It also means that the farmer protected the foods from coming into contact with any prohibited substances. 

When purchasing a food “made with organic ingredients,” that does not mean the item is purely organic. Multi-ingredient foods mean that at least 70 percent of the food must comprise certified organic products, while the remaining percentage must be produced with strict methods and in accordance with the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture). 

What Is the Downside of Organic Food? 

The largest barrier to maintaining an organic diet is the cost. Recent comparisons showed that organic foods were significantly more expensive than nonorganic versions of the same foods.

For certain foods, there is absolutely no benefit to buying an organic version. In fruits with an inedible peel (or skin) like a banana, pineapple, or avocado, the exterior will be peeled away anyway, and pesticides do not transfer to the fruit inside. Therefore, buying organic versions of these types of food is a waste of money. 

Because organic foods cannot contain preservatives, they will spoil faster than nonorganic versions of the same food. Plan your menus and prepare it all before stocking up on food that will not last.

Organic foods have been said to possess higher concentrations of nutrients and reduced levels of detectable pesticide levels. However, much of what is claimed by farmers of organic food is not supported by any hard evidence.

Some “natural” types of permitted chemicals in organic foods have actually been proven carcinogenic. Some organically-permitted pesticides are not as effective as others, meaning many sprayings are often applied. Plus, many organic pesticides have never been tested for safety, possibly leading to much higher levels of a chemical that could be more harmful than traditional synthetic pesticides. 

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