Is Organic food worth the expense?
Delicious, nutritious and full of colour ...
When it comes to food, there is nothing I love more than a colourful fruit (or vegetable) platter on a summer's day. Especially because they nourish my family, and satisfy their appetites.
As parents, we want to give our family the best we can. I know a lot of parents purchase Toddlekind’s play mats for this reason.
Toddlekind has strict safety measures in place, and conducts frequent testing throughout the year to ensure your peace of mind that toxins and chemicals are either as low as possible, or don’t exist at all. But that’s a conversation for another day. Let me know in the comments if you’d like to read a blog about it.
But when it comes to food, what is the best option? Is organic food really worth the expense?
What makes something organic?
Organic produce is grown without man-made influences - synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, bioengineering and genetically modified organisms to name a few.
If you see something labelled organic, it must be certified or traceable by the supplier.
Reasons to buy organic
Like most things, consumers have their reasons for making a purchase. When it comes to buying organic the three main reasons include:
- the belief organic food is healthier
- organic food tastes superior, and
- growing organic food is better for the environment (because people believe organic farming methods are more sustainable)
Why is organic food more expensive?
The short answer … farming methods. I don’t know enough about organic farming methods to have an opinion, but I do know:
- a farm must be 100% organic to grow organic food, and this isn’t cheap to achieve,
- supply is limited compared to demand, which pushes up the prices and
- production costs are much higher than conventional farming because it uses more labour-intensive methods of weed and pest control.
I buy organic produce because I genuinely believe it tastes better. Also, I believe it is healthier for my family, even if scientists tell me that pesticide traces on conventionally grown food is minuscule.
Food grown organically is tastier, healthier and more nutritious …
There is a show on the BBC called “Trust Me I’m a Doctor”. In one episode, the team of doctors ask; is organic food worth spending money on?
The doctors ran an informal taste test in the Chester city marketplace, and offered organic and non-organic equivalents of carrots, apples and tomatoes from one supplier. They found that more people preferred the organic apples and tomatoes, but surprisingly preferred the non-organic carrots!
This response shocked me because the organic carrots we buy are sweeter compared to their much cheaper counterparts which lack taste, and are watery. This just goes to show that what everybody likes is different.
This somewhat casual testing process in a market square seems to support the argument that non-organic food is not always a million miles behind organic food in terms of taste.
Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen
For some people buying organic is an ethical and environmental choice. Organic food uses fewer pesticides and less intensive farming methods.
But as I mentioned earlier, these farming methods don't come without a cost. The higher cost is the biggest turn-off for many families, but let me encourage you not to go without completely!
Focus your purchases on what matters.
Many years ago, a friend advised me I didn't need to buy everything organic and introduced me to the Dirty Dozen - it sounds like a movie doesn’t it? - a list of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residue. This will vary based on your country and the laws in place.
I recently learned the list has an addition, so there are now 13 but they are sticking with the name.
There is also a list for the Clean Fifteen of fruit & veg. Keep in mind these lists may vary by country, and where you access them based on laws and farming practices.
Keep the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists in mind when you shop and, regardless of what you purchase, make sure you give everything a good wash.
Where I live, I don't have access to a big assortment of organic options in my local supermarkets, and the farm store prices often make me weep - especially with how quickly my children can eat a punnet of strawberries!
If your budget can handle organic prices and it is your preferred option, that’s great! But if budgets are tight, don’t let this stop you from the most important step you can take for a healthier lifestyle - eating more fruit and vegetables. Especially when science has proven that washing your food well can all but remove toxins and pesticides.
Dr Megan Rossi, also known as the Gut Health doctor, says even just buying organic food can make us feel better about our wellbeing. Wow!
Honestly, I thought it was a given that organic food was healthier but it seems that scientists can’t agree on whether this is true or not.
What they can agree on however is:
- non-organic food contains ‘trace amounts’ of pesticides which are considered to be levels which are safe for human consumption.
- foods that are picked and eaten/frozen straight away (not stored for a few days) contain higher levels of vitamin C, antioxidants and all the other good stuff!
So, when you’re out buying fruit and veggies, is it true it doesn’t matter what you buy in terms of your health? According to the experts, yes. As long as you wash it well first.
Remember the health benefits of eating vegetables and fruit —even if it is not organic — outweigh the downside of higher pesticide residues especially since the trace amounts are low, and washing decreases residues even more.
Practice good food hygiene and learn how to wash produce, regardless of how it was grown.
How to Wash Fruits and Vegetables
Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the best things you can do for your family's health. But take the next step and thoroughly clean them to wash off as much pesticide residue as possible.
Up until recently, I washed my fruit and veg by rinsing them under cold, running water. This method (or simply soaking your vegetables for a few minutes) for a minimum of 30 seconds (ideally longer) will help to remove some of the pesticide residues from some produce. Scientists found it reduced the amount of pesticide residue for 9 of the 12 tested pesticides.
Some fruit and vegetables should be washed shortly before you want to eat them to avoid shortening their shelf life due to increased moisture levels.
In a study published in October 2017 by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they compared the effectiveness of a few different cleaning methods including plain water, and baking soda and water solution.
The baking soda solution was found to be most effective at removing pesticide residues both on the surface and beneath the skin of apples. But other natural washing options do a good job including vinegar solution, salt water and plain water.
Baking soda solution: Put a mix of one ounce of baking soda mixed with 100 ounces of water, and soak for 12 - 15 minutes.
Organic or not organic … that is the question …
Try to choose organic produce as much as possible, and keep the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists in mind when you shop. If you can’t buy organic, don’t stop eating fruit and vegetables and make sure you give everything a good wash.
Well-washed, conventionally grown fruit and vegetables are more likely to be healthier than organic snack foods.
So, "is organic food worth the expense?" Ultimately the answer comes down to personal preference, so the answer is up to you. Always do what is best for you and your family.
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Comment below by answering this question:
Which two lists should you keep in mind when you buy your produce?
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Images supplied via Pexel (in order of appearance):Elle Hughes | Anna Tukhfatullina Food Photographer/Stylist | Daria Shevtsova | Markus Spiske | RODNAE Productions | JAMAL YAHYA
Once upon a time there was no sleep for me with these lists. I didn’t pay attention to what I was buying. It was the time when I gave my son strawberries, probably even of foreign origin. He ate with relish, but the next day he looked like a strawberry himself. All red and dotted. Unfortunately, something sensitized him. It was a shock for me because he has been eating strawberries since he was a year old, so I started looking for the cause and found out about these two lists. I’ve been sticking to them ever since. And I consider what I buy for my family. It’s worth paying more for healthy products
The two lists are the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen! Excellent blog post 😃
I know myself as primal to the Dirty Dozen. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to get organic products to the store and how do I have to buy them, but I like to buy products from the dirty dozen from organic crops.
The two lists are: the clean fifteen and the dirty dozen! ☺️
You should keep them two lists in mind, when you buy your produce the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen also make sure you give everything a good wash.
We would be very happy to win the beautiful and practical Toddlekid Splat mat 🤞🏼🍀💙💙
I find that the best way to remove pesticides is apple cider with water and bicarbonate of soda.
Very usfull lists. You should keep in mind the two lists: the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen. Don‘t forget to wash them.
Both lists are very important and should be followed when shopping. Products from the Dirty Dozen should be bought from organic crops to reduce the amount of toxins in your daily diet. On the other hand, products from Pure Fifteen can be bought safely from any crops because they absorb the least toxins. If you want to take care of your family’s health, remember these two lists and follow them when shopping.
Dirty Dozen + Clean Fifteen
Love these lists, they were really good advice I’m excited to put to use!
I know both letters very well, especially since I have a baby. She remembers being pregnant when I felt the urge to eat the strawberries that dominate this leaf. Unfortunately, ours were not there yet and the whim was so strong that I was tempted by those from the store and unfortunately they quickly gave a sign in the form of an itchy rash. Since then, I have been paying close attention to it. Fortunately, we have our own farm where we grow not all vegetables and fruits, but also strawberries, spinach, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes that are at the forefront of the Dirty Dozen. I appreciate farms dealing exclusively with ecological crops because I know how much time they have to devote to them and I believe that it is adequate to their price and it is worth paying more and buying products from organic farming. Knowing how many fertilizers and chemicals my friends use to grow e.g. corn or apples which, due to spraying, mature in one night, my eyes are wide open. It is worth not only knowing but also sticking to both lists to give your family fruit and it is rich in vitamins, not toxins!
The two lists are the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen. 🍀
You should keep the Dirty Dozen list in mind, because of the high levels of pesticide residue included in the products. The Clean Fifteen has its importance too, but the Dirty Dozen is the priority. Wash them good! Kisses from Poland
You should keep them two lists in mind, when you buy your produce: the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen lists!
And make sure you give everything a good wash.
Would be soo happy to win the beautiful and practical Toddlekid Splat mat for my little princess 🍀🍀🍀 it’s soooooo beautiful 😍😍😍👨👩👧🍀❤️