Consumers wonder if the benefits of eating organic foods outweigh the time and expense, especially when money is tight. Information published on the Princeton University points out the advantages of choosing foods from sustainable agricultural practices. Organic food is healthier for people, especially when it’s produced in local markets, because it gets to the table faster. In addition, organic produce contains up to two-thirds less pesticide residue than non-organically grown food.
Organic foods are grown without the use of pesticides, chemicals or preservatives. Non-organic food contains so much pesticide residue that it is easy to see how pervasive pesticides are over-used in our environment. The Environmental Protection Agency states that herbicides, pesticides and insecticides found in non-organic food are potentially carcinogenic. Organic foods contain none of these products, and the produce is grown on land that has been certified to be free of chemicals for at least 3 years. Organic food is lower in toxins and contains higher amounts of beneficial nutrients, such as Vitamin C and minerals.
Pesticide and fertilizer runoff effects the environment in a negative manner, polluting streams and killing beneficial insects and birds. According to Princeton, three quarters of the skylark population is no longer part of the landscape due to conventional farming practices. As insects become more resistant to pesticides, it takes new and stronger chemicals to do the job. Today’s farm communities use 700 million pounds of pesticides annually; double what was used 30 years ago. Organic growers use sustainable, natural methods to combat pests, including crop rotation, composting and companion planting.
Several conditions affect the flavor of food, including plant variety, harvest time and the shipping time from field to table. Nutrients also affect flavor, and organic fruits and vegetables contain higher amounts of antioxidants, beneficial nutrients and minerals, such as zinc and iron. Researchers at Washington State University find that soils containing more organic materials and natural nutrients help fruit grow higher levels of fructose. Researcher John P. Reganold and his team of researchers determined that the increased microbial effect of organic soils helps fruit produce a sweeter taste.
Some non-organic produce has more toxins than others. For example, broccoli is low on the list of vegetables that contain high amounts of pesticides and chemicals, and celery is remarkably high. A savvy buyer with this knowledge can buy organic produce or substitute another with lower residue. The Good Housekeeping website, thedailygreen.com, recommends that consumers choose organics when it comes to apples, celery and strawberries. Watermelon, tangerines, and kiwi and pineapple are better choices when it comes to buying non-organic produce. Skip non-organic peaches, spinach and imported bell peppers. Better choices include asparagus and cabbage. Certified organic foods contain USDA Organic seals on the packages.