Authors: tABLE health
Just when you think you’re doing something virtuous and working towards living a healthier lifestyle, a new article comes out and makes you second guess yourself, AGAIN! This time, we seem to be hearing a lot of bad press about organic food. The New York Times recently published a review of an article from Stanford University stating that organic foods just aren’t that healthy. What has followed has been utter confusion on what is and is not healthy and how to best understand how foods are labeled. So, are you ready for some answers?
The organic label has never meant that the food which bears its label is more likely to help you lose weight or is more likely to contain good-for you nutrients. Organic foods are simply grown without the use of chemical pesticides, which makes them better for the environment and for encouraging agricultural diversity. The potential heath risks of pesticides in foods have not been adequately studied, which means that scientists can’t fully rule out any long-term risks of pesticides, hormones or genetic modification. So, although organic foods may not be more nutrient-rich, there are certainly many other compelling reasons to buy organic.
On the other hand, organic foods often travel many miles and pass through many hands before they arrive in your local grocery store’s produce department. The more time between when a food is plucked from the ground and when it reaches your hungry tummy, the more nutrient loss occurs. For this reason, local food has been shown to be more nutritious than organic foods in many cases. Additionally, frozen fruits and vegetables are often much higher in nutrients since they are freshly picked and then preserved by the quick freezing process.
In the end, whether or not you eat organic is not going to make or break your healthy lifestyle. Its much better to eat all conventional produce and to fill your meals and snacks with fresh produce, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy than to fill your shopping cart with organic frozen dinners, cereals, chips, bars and snacks. Kids tend to store the residues from pesticides more readily than adults, so that may be a good reason to feed your children primarily organic foods. If you feel like money is just too tight to buy organic but want to do something, try a mix of local foods and avoid the Dirty Dozen (also check out the clean 15).