Organic produce is produce that has not been processed with any irradiation, solvents, chemical food additives, synthetic pesticides, or chemical fertilizers, according to the USDA and Organic Foods Production Act. Organic farmers also emphasize sustainable and renewable resources in order to conserve the environment.
Benefits of Organic Produce: chemical free and not genetically modified. Certified organic produce will ensure you get food from a farm that does not use any pesticides and is environmentally friendly. No chemicals will be added to your food. The debate is still out regarding taste. Some people state the taste of organic is different from conventional produce.
Cons of Organic Produce: cost can be a factor when choosing organic. Due to the higher cost of becoming a certified organic farmer and the higher loss of produce, cost to the consumer can increase. Since no preservatives are used, the produce has a shorter shelf life and more produce can get damaged in transport resulting in less produce to sell.
What is better and what should you buy? The Environmental Working Group has made a list of produce based on pesticide tests performed called the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen.” The “Dirty Dozen” had the highest pesticide load and are recommended to buy organic. The “Clean Fifteen” produce have the lowest amount of pesticide load and are also the safest conventionally grown crops from a pesticide contamination standpoint. By peeling or removing the skin from the “Clean Fifteen,” you can also reduce the amount of pesticides consumed.
Clean Fifteen: Dirty Dozen:
Cabbage Cherry Tomatoes
Sweet Corn Grapes
Eggplant Hot Peppers
Grapefruit Imported Nectarines
Papayas Sweet Bell Peppers
Frozen Sweet Peas
- Buy In Season: Seasonal produce is both the freshest and cheapest because you’re buying the produce at its peak production.
- Shop At A Local Farmer’s Market: I LOVE my local farmer’s market. Many farmers there practice organic farming without being certified organic. Talk to the farmers and find out how they produce their food. You’ll also get a better deal since you’re not going through the grocery store. More tips to buy local.
- Join A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): You can have your produce delivered to your home from local farms in your area! Check out the local CSA’s in your area today and sign up.
Enjoy your fruits and veggies daily! The more organic produce you can buy, the better. However, eating your fruits and vegetables daily is the most important goal. Keep up with your colors of the rainbow!
Sarah Koszyk, MA RDN