Organic Foods: Why and how to choose them?

Organic foods are foods produced through methods within the standards of organic farming, as are the animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products that do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.

These standards may vary from country to country, but generally organic farming aims at ecological balance and conserving biodiversity, restricting the use of pesticides, fertilizers, hormones and even irradiation, industrial solvents or synthetic food additives.

Thus, organic agriculture is that which is considered "original", one used from the beginning of time until the XX century, when the chemicals appeared for the industrialization of agriculture, accelerating its production process. The result of all this is a disastrous damage to our health. Studies show that there is not much difference between conventional food and organic foods when it comes to the nutrients, but it is undeniable that growth hormones, pesticides and antibiotics are toxic to our foods (and bodies) and can cause:

- Irritation of the skin, eye and lungs.

- Hormonal dysfunction that can lead to early onset puberty as well as other health concerns.

- Toxicity of the brain and nervous system.

- Cancer.

- Blood disorders.

- Nerve disorders.

- Birth defects.

- Reproductive effects.

- Resistance to antibiotics.

Per the study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a pesticide remains in 63% of commonly used products after being washed properly. That means, it is quite clear the damage caused by conventional foods in our lives and of course, the damage caused in the farm workers and people who live close to them.

Only organic?

Have you ever heard about the “Dirty 12 List”? Created by Environmental Working Group in US and released every year since 2004, this list contains 12 fruits and vegetables that you have to eat only when organic. For 2017 report, it was found that almost 70 percent of 48 non-organic samples tested positive for at least one pesticide. And in many cases, the numbers were even higher.

But also, they released the “Clean 15” list, which they identified the non-organic produce least likely to be contaminated with pesticide levels. But like I mentioned, try to eat organic as much as you can, leaving the non-organic for rare occasions.

Before looking the list, there is a “rule” you can follow when you are in doubt about which fruit or vegetables are more protected against pesticides. Usually the ones with hard and thicker skin are the safest ones. ;)

Dirty 12 List - 2020

  1. Strawberries

  2. Spinach

  3. Kale

  4. Nectarines

  5. Apples

  6. Grapes

  7. Peaches

  8. Cherries

  9. Pears

  10. Tomatoes

  11. Celery

  12. Potatoes

+ Hot peppers

Clean 15 - 2020

  1. Avocados

  2. Sweet Corn*

  3. Pineapples

  4. Onions

  5. Papaya*

  6. Sweet peas frozen

  7. Eggplant

  8. Asparagus

  9. Cauliflower

  10. Cantaloupe

  11. Broccoli

  12. Mushrooms

  13. Cabbage

  14. Honeydew Melon

  15. Kiwi

If you want to learn more about it, check this link here.

How to fit organic food in a tight budget?

Consuming organic foods is not always easy, but there are some ways to fit in your budget, especially for those with tight budgets. Here they are some tips:

1. The dirty dozen list can help you decide which fruits and vegetables you can buy that don’t need to specifically organic.

2. You can also always buy seasonal produce, the price is not only better, but it tastes better as well.

3. Frozen vegetables and fruits is a good option too. As long as you don’t use microwave oven to defrost them, frozen produce is really safe.

4. Get to know organic farms close to your location and start going often to farmer’s market. But remember, it is not because it is from a farm that it is organic. Always check the labels and talk direct to the farmers. In doubt, always remember the tip number 1.

5. These tips are also the same for animal protein.

Summing up:

  • Organic foods are produced using methods within the standard of organic farming.

  • It is undeniable that growth hormones, pesticides and antibiotics are possibly responsible for the toxins in our foods today (and in our bodies) and as a result of consuming these foods we can develop several diseases.

  • Every year the EWG announces two lists called "Dirty 12" and "Clean 15" where you can check which are the 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide content (Dirty 12) and those 15 which have the lowest levels (Clean 15). So, you can better guide yourself on which foods you should invest in organic or not.

  • In addition to these lists, there are other ways to include organic food in more tight budgets.

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