The first time I heard about “organic foods” I remember wondering wtf are those? I mean foods are foods, right? I did some research and I learnt organic foods are a little different (lol I’ll share those details later so don’t worry).
I decided to start buying and of course eating organic foods, because I wanted to be healthy. I remember my grocery bills basically doubled as a result. I also remembered asking myself…
- Are these foods really organic?
- How do I know for sure?
- Do they really taste different?
- Are they worth it?
I’m gonna be 100% honest with you. Grocery shopping can be an enjoyable experience browsing through the aisles seeing all the new products out there, for a moment it even inspires me to want to cook (if you know me, you know cooking is not my jam). Let me tell you though, all those pretty packages and that nicely displayed produce might be luring you in, but do you really know what you’re eating? Just because it looks or says it’s “healthy,” it might not always be the best thing for you, or maybe it actually is!?
I’ve been learning a lot about food over the years not only to make sure that I’m eating to fuel my body, but also to ensure that my clients are able to achieve their goals. Food and nutrition has a lot to do with reaching our health and fitness goals, and as the saying goes, “you can’t out train a bad diet.” Over the next few weeks I’m going to be sharing a few blogs with you, to help clarify and debunk some of the confusing topics that surround food.
If you haven’t guessed, we’re starting with…Organic vs Non-Organic (Produce):
Walking through the produce section you see all the fresh fruits and veggies and some things are labelled “Strawberries” while others are labelled “Organic Strawberries.” You might just be thinking it’s all a gimmick and one is just a fancy label in order for someone to charge you more. Hey, I’m like you and if I can save a few dollars, I’m going too, cause man do I have my sights set on a few new items I would like to have. Hold up though, before you discount “organic,” keep reading to learn more, and then at the end, form your own opinion or do some more research to decide what you should be buying. It’s your health and well-being I’m most concerned about and want to keep you informed.
Organic: In 2002, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) put into place a national standard for food labelled “organic” whether it was grown in the United States or it was imported from another country (note that country to country, there may be slightly different regulations, but the key factors remain the same). Farmers who produce organics, use renewable resource and conserve soil and water, in order to protect the environment for future generations. According to the USDA, “organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bio engineering; or ionizing radiation.”
In both Canada and the United States, in order to qualify as an “organic” farm, it must be certified by a third-party certification body. It can take a farmer up to 3-years to transition their food production from a conventional farm to a certified organic farm. During the 3-year transition period, farmers can still sell their product, but it cannot be labelled organic.
So, with that quick overview of what “organic” is, you might be wondering, are all my fruits and vegetables contaminated with pesticides, do I need to switch to all organic? Don’t worry I got you covered!
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), which is a no-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, comes out with yearly “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” Lists.
The “Dirty Dozen” contains a list of foods that have the highest concentration of Pesticides. The top 8 foods, when sampled had over 90% of the foods containing 2 or more types of pesticide residue. The “Dirty Dozen” is listed below
1. Strawberries 2. Spinach 3. Kale 4. Nectarines 5. Apples 6. Grapes 7. Peaches 8. Cherries 9. Pears 10. Tomatoes 11. Celery 12. Potatoes
How many of these 12 foods are you eating on a daily or weekly basis? I know that some of these foods particularly strawberries are some of my favourites.
Then there is the “Clean 15” which are 15 crops that farmers use the least amount of pesticides on. These include:
1. Avocado 2. Pineapples 3. Sweet Corn 4. Frozen Sweet Peas 5. Onions 6. Papayas 7. Eggplants 8. Asparagus 9. Kiwis 10. Cabbage 11. Cauliflower 12. Cantaloupe 13. Broccoli 14. Mushrooms 15. Honeydew Melon
Hopefully you’re already eating a number of foods on the “Clean 15” list cause there are some good ones, I even wrote a whole blog about the #1 food “Avocado” so if you want to learn more about its benefits CHECK IT OUT!
It has been found that organically grown foods typically have about 1/3 the amount of pesticides vs the conventionally grown version. I don’t want to send you all into a panic though! You do need to know that even conventionally grown foods are still well below the level that the Environmental Protection Agency would deem to be unsafe.
The question remains however, over years and decades will the added pesticides increase health risks? This is a question that cannot 100% be answered yet and is left to your discretion. Organic does have less impact on the environment and contains less pesticides, but research has not 100% confirmed that it is technically more nutritious for us (ie. more vitamins and minerals).
I hope that, this quick overview on Organic produce has shed a little insight, although I’m sure you still have more questions. The “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen” lists are great to work off when grocery shopping and know that conventional produce is still by regulatory standards safe to eat.
So, do you buy Organic or Conventional? What are your reasons? Let me know below in the comments section because I would love to get more opinions on it!
If reading this post has you thinking you need to start eating and working out differently, then hit me up at Train With Trudie and I’ll be happy to help you get your journey started.
Check out my programs HERE.