To buy organic or not to buy organic

This a common question that people often ask themselves when deciding whether to spend the extra money at the grocery store. Is it really that much better for you? Is it worth it? What does organic mean? Well, it turns out that in some cases spending the extra cash is necessary.

First off, let’s go through what the word “organic” actually means. To be considered “organic”, the food product has to be stamped with the USDA’S approval. To obtain this seal, foods need to be grown, processed, and handled by certified organic facilities. This means that crops must be grown free of conventional pesticides, free of fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, and without bioengineering or use of ionizing radiation. If you are still hesitant to spend the money on organic produce, below is a quick go-to guide on when to splurge.

After doing a study, the Environmental Working Group put together a list of fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest levels of pesticides. The “Dirty Dozen” is a list of produce that is worth paying extra for.

The “Dirty Dozen”:
Sweet Bell Pepper
Kale/Collard Greens
Grapes (Imported)

The “Clean 15”:(found to have the lowest levels of pesticides)
Sweet Corn (Frozen)
Sweet Peas (Frozen)
Kiwi Fruit
Cantaloupe (Domestic)
Sweet Potatoes
Honeydew Melon

Hopefully this helps when buying produce, however, when it comes to buying meat and dairy products, it’s a whole other ball game. There have been many debates on whether “organic” is really better in this department. Organic is intended to mean free of pesticides, hormones, artificial fertilizers or other synthetic additives. However, many argue that the USDA standards contain many loopholes for factory farms. For instance, when it comes to livestock, the requirements stated that they had to have “access to pasture”. This can end up having a very different meaning for various farms. For some, it means the animals have free range and get the majority of their food from the outdoors. However, some may construe this as meaning having a tiny door at one end of a hen house. Naturally, the idea of “free-range” brings about a lot of controversy so I would suggest doing a little research before buying.


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