Updated: Mar 16, 2018
Organic labelling is a never ending controversy. I mean, I get it. You walk in to a grocery store and see a $4 Certified Organic avocado, then you turn to the left and see a $1 Conventional avocado. It's difficult to justify forking out 4x the amount for the organic certification label. But is that really all your getting? A label?
I'm here to give you a very concise lowdown on "organic". Here is all the information I needed to help me make a decision:
Conventional farming uses technology and synthetic chemicals to increase yields, meaning it is not only contaminating the soil with toxins, but also produces genetically modified produce that is linked to carcinogenic tumors and birth defects. The top 5 most commonly used pesticides cause birth defects. These top 5 pesticides are used on 90% of California's conventionally grown strawberries, along with over 9 million other pesticides used on a single strawberry farm.
Organic farming, on the other hand, produces food through sustainable methods like crop rotation that support mineral rich soil and prohibits the use of antibiotics, hormones, synthetic pesticides and herbicides.
Consuming fruits and vegetables is of course better than not consuming any fruits or vegetables. The Environmental Working Group releases a list of the top 12 "dirty" and 15 "clean" produce each year. The Dirty Dozen lists produce that tested highest for pesticides and The Clean Fifteen lists produce that tested lowest for pesticides from the previous year, which helps shoppers know when to splurge and save on organic or conventional produce.
2017 Dirty Dozen
11. Sweet bell peppers
2017 Clean Fifteen
1. Sweet corn*
6. Sweet peas (frozen)
11. Honeydew melon
*The EWG recommends you buy organic sweet corn & papaya if you want to avoid genetically modified produce since they are commonly grown from genetically modified seeds.
I personally purchase organic produce when the option is available, but it can get expensive. Here are a few tips for shopping organic on a budget:
Print coupons for items you typically buy (But don't let this trick you in to buying more. Only print coupons for things you need/would buy already.) Great sites for this are All Natural Savings, Mambo Sprouts and I Heart Natural Deals.
Check the manufacturer or grocery store's personal site for deals and coupons.
Buy seasonal. Food that is locally grown and in-season tends to be a better price due to less shipping and storage costs.
Buy in bulk and freeze. Some stores offer discounts for purchasing more than one item. If it's something you buy each time you go to the grocery store, buy multiple and store for future use. Especially with frozen produce, which is flash frozen right after picking A.K.A generally more fresh than the fruits & veggies in the "fresh" produce section.
There you have it, folks! Please feel free to comment with any questions you might have, or shoot me an email :)
1. Seralini GE, et al. Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Food Chem Toxicol 2012; 50(11):4221-31
2. Spiroux de Vendomois, J, et al. A comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health . Int J Biol Sci 2009; 5(7):706-726
3.Environmental Working Group. Pesticide-centered Program Approved Despite 30,000 Opposition Letters. January 23, 2015.