Organic vs Non-Organic Produce: The ins and outs

April 23, 2023

Going to the grocery store has become a financial burden for so many of us now a days. In fact, food prices have increased by an alarming estimated 9.9% in the last 2 years. The question of buying organic
vs non-organic produce has become more relevant now, more than ever.

I strive to buy organic produce as much as possible, but when I see non-organic produce that is significantly cheaper, I often ask myself
if buying the non-organic produce would really make a difference.

What makes produce organic?

For produce to be certified organic, it needs to meet specific criteria which include specific standards on how a food is grown, handled, and processed. Organic produce farmers can’t use artificial or synthetic
fertilizers or use genetic engineering of crops (GMO’s).

Why is organic produce so much more expensive?

Farmers have many specific practices that they must agree to and practice in order for their crops to be certified organic and stay that way for every harvest. With these practices comes higher prices overall to
manage which trickles down to consumers making organic items significantly more expensive.

Which has more nutrients?

Neither! They are the same. Studies have shown that most fruits and vegetables, organic or non-organic, have the same nutrient content, except for higher phosphorus levels in organic produce. Phosphorus is
an essential mineral that is a component of our bones, teeth, RNA, and DNA.

What about pesticides?

Most people that eat mostly or entirely organic foods will tell you that those foods are healthier, better for the environment, and the produce has less pesticides than non-organic produce. There is some truth
to this. Organic produce is known to have 30% lower pesticide residues than non-organic produce. It is also important to mention that pesticide levels in both types of produce are within the safety limits of
the USDA and the Department of Agriculture, but it is still unclear just what that means to our health as consumers. There haven’t been enough studies performed on pesticide exposure, especially in children
and pregnant women.

Just how harmful are the pesticides used on crops?

Even though the evidence is limited, studies suggest long-term exposure to pesticides found on crops has been linked to and associated with leukemia, lymphoma, as well as breast, brain, prostate, testes,
and ovary cancers. It can also affect the nervous system and several pesticides commonly used have been classified as carcinogens.

The bottom line on organic vs. non organic produce

The decision to buy organic or non-organic produce is a personal preference, which is usually dictated by your budget given the current inflation of food costs. If you’re choosing to buy organic produce because you think there is a higher nutrient content, you may want to reconsider that since there is no evidence that there are no real advantages. If pesticides are your concern and it is within your budget, it might be worth it to switch to organic produce whenever you can.

For many of us, cost is going to be the deciding factor, as organic produce can be up to 50% more expensive than non-organic produce.


Amber is a clinical nutritionist and group fitness instructor with an extensive background in dance, nutrition, wellness & fitness. She has a master’s degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition from the New York Chiropractic College (2015), has been a dancer for over 30 years & a group fitness instructor since 2009.


Resources

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/organic-food/art-
20043880


https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/organic-food-no-more-nutritious-than-conventionally-grown-
food-201209055264

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