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According to the Organic Trade Association, now 78% of American families purchase organic food. And there is an enormous increase in organic sales. It has raised from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010.
When we look at the benefits of organic food, two properties of organic food provides benefits. What is in organic produce? And what is not in organic food?
What is not in organic produce?
It contains fewer pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. Studies show that conventionally grown produce has more pesticide residues and more toxic metal levels. These compounds are used in conventional farming to help decrease environmental stressors that threaten crop production.
Organic farming techniques are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides and
fertilizers. Remember the purpose of pesticides is to poison organisms, albeit small ones that are a threat to crops. A study in 2014 showed that there were higher concentrations of antioxidants and less cadmium and pesticide residues in organically grown crops. Therefore, do you want to have an apple with a side of poison.
What is in organic produce?
More nutrients. Studies have shown that organic produce is significantly higher in antioxidants. This is due to both the more nutrient soil that is necessary for the organic label and the fact that the crop is not exposed to compounds that might interact negatively with these antioxidants.
Organic produce has more vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
When it comes to vitamins and minerals, one study shows that there are more nutrients in organic fruits and vegetables. They contain 27% more vitamin C, 21.1% more iron, 29% more magnesium, 13% more phosphorus, and 18% more polyphenols.
Phytonutrients are specific nutrients found in plants that have health benefits all their own. There was a 19% higher level of phenolic acids, 69% higher levels of flavanones, 28% higher levels of stilbenes, 26% higher levels of flavones, 50% higher levels of flavanols, and 51% higher levels of anthocyanins in organically grown food.
These benefits also go over to organic meats. Organic raised meats are also less fatty and have better fats such as Omega-3 fatty acids that are not found in conventionally raised beef.
Click on the picture below to hear our podcast from Sow Organic regarding the organic farming method.
The Other Benefits of Organic
It should also be noted that organic farming has a benefit on the environment and biodiversity. It keeps chemicals out of the soil, air, water, and ultimately our bodies. It also leads to more biological diversity and builds healthy soil. Organic farming supports the diverse environment and habitat instead of trying to kill it off.
But what about the cost?
Hopefully, the benefit of organic food over conventionally grown food should be a no-brainer decision now. However, if you are not able to avoid organic all the time, then the list below of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen will be beneficial. Use it to make sure that you always buy the Dirty Dozen organic. These 12 foods, 15 foods if counting the honorable mentions, are higher in pesticides and toxins when grown conventionally.
The Clean Fifteen are foods that are generally considered clean even if bought non-organic.
Article by Dr. Meaghan Kirschling, DC, APRN, RN, MS