Organic Food – Is it really healthier and worth the cost?

There is so much hype in the world of nutrition. There is always the latest & greatest diet that promises to change your life. Should we all go gluten free, Paleo or vegetarian?  What is the latest super food? Sometimes, even as a nutritionist, my head spins with all of the information! Eating organic is another one of those hotly debated topics.  I thought I would take a few moments and share how I see it.

  • Local & organic food is good for our economy. Buying produce & meat from local merchants helps support  local farmers and their families.
  • Organic food just tastes better. I realize that this is totally subjective, but I happen to think fruits and veggies that have been grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are given the opportunity to let their true flavours shine. Conventionally grown produce sometimes has a tarnished flavour that comes from chemical residue. I’ve washed more than a few pieces of non-organic fruit and vegetables and once I bit into it thought, ‘This just doesn’t taste right!’
  • Conventional farming uses over 50 different chemicals when growing produce. The runoff from these chemicals end up in rivers and streams affecting not only wildlife but those chemicals end up in our drinking water too.
  • Growing food organically, that is without synthetic chemicals or mono-cropping, helps restore  and re-balance farmland. This means that crops are rotated and fields are given a chance to rest and rebuild important nutrients that are often depleted in commercial farming. This state of depletion requires additional chemicals to synthetically ‘enrich’ our produce.
  • Organic foods are more nutrient dense. This is where the research can get a little finicky. Pick a topic, any topic and form a reasonable opinion. Now take that new found opinion and look for research online that supports your theory. I guarantee it, you’ll be able to find it. The same is true of organic produce and its nutrient content. I am not here to argue about studies and their validity. There are so many variables to account for that we could literally  argue all day long who is right and who is wrong. We are all friends here & I think arguing is a waste of our time! I do however, want to share a few thoughts on why I believe organic foods to be more nutrient dense. For the record, I am talking about whole foods, not the organic box of cookies you found in the grocery store. It makes sense to me that if the soil food is grown in is more nutrient  dense as is the case in fields that are rotated, given a rest period and fertilized with good old fashioned manure from healthy animals, that the produce will be healthier as well. Also, being sprayed on a regular basis with synthetic pesticides and herbicides that kill bugs and funguses adds a pretty significant chemical load to a plant. What if we let the plants fight off the bugs and fungi themselves by equipping them with nutrient dense soil and planting them with other plants that support one another? Case in point, every year I plant tomatoes. I have never resorted to spraying them with harsh chemicals! I have however, planted marigolds beside them to keep down the aphid population. There are simple strategies to keep our fruits and veggies chemical free.

Just in case you are like me, and do enjoy a good research study from time to time, I would encourage you to check out this article from the New York Times. “According to a 2014 meta-analysis conducted by scientists at Newcastle University in England of 343 previously-published studies compared the nutritional composition of organic versus conventional foods  concluded “Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops.”

  • I consider the health of my family and I a pretty good investment. Yes, it may be less expensive right now to eat non-organic or highly processed packaged food, but consider this, our health is precious. I would rather invest now in nourishing food than pay later for prescription drugs that put a bandage on something I could have avoided with good nutrition.

boxA few months ago, I was introduced to Organics Live. They are an amazing team of people who are committed to bringing carbon-neutral, locally focused organic food right to your door step! I get a little giddy when my box arrives. I love it that I can customize my box and choose how much produce I want and how often. If something isn’t quite right in the delivery, I simply let one of the team members know and they credit me the value of the produce for future purchases. Please take a moment to check them out – you will be impressed!

Stay tuned for part 2 of this series. I’ll be helping you sort out what produce is best to buy organic and what is okay to buy conventionally grown. We will talk a little bit more about those organic cookies I mentioned and other advertising tricks to make you a savvy shopper!