Online Personal Training: Organic Foods – Worth the Extra Cost?

Organic Foods – Worth the Extra Expense?

Food safety and chemicals is a real concern – see Chipotle recently. You want to eat healthier but when you go to the store you see the prices for regular foods and the inflated prices for organic foods. Is it worth paying extra for organic foods?

First, what is organic? In a nutshell, according to the USDA:

“USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible. Produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest.”

As to meats, regulations require that “animals are raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors (like the ability to graze on pasture), fed 100% organic feed and forage, and not administered antibiotics or hormones.”

Organic foods are a good way to reduce your exposure to potentially harmful foods. At least one group of environmental researchers (the Environmental Working Group) complied a list of the “dirty dozen” foods with the greatest pesticide loads.   So if you are regularly purchasing only 3 or 4 of these foods it may be worthwhile to go for the organic and pay more money. Note that the “dirty dozen” are only fruits and veggies. Organic milk, beef and poultry also may be healthier in that they contain less hormones and antibiotics but also may cost 10% to 50% more than non-organic.

The Dirty Dozen

Fruit or Veggie Score (highest pesticide load)
Peaches 100 (Worst)
Apples 96
Sweet Bell Peppers 86
Celery 85
Nectarines 84
Strawberries 83
Cherries 75
Lettuce 69
Grapes 68
Pears 65
Spinach 60
Potatoes 58

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