Before you jump down my throat, please know that I DO approve of eating organic as much as possible. It is especially important to choose organic produce when it comes to the “dirty dozen” – that list of fruits and vegetables that show the highest concentrations of pesticide use.
Here’s the problem though. Just because something is organic, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy. Sadly, many people have been fooled into thinking that those two words are synonyms. Food manufacturers have taken notice of the organic craze and started producing certified organic foods with little to no nutritional value. They’ve duped customers into believing that having the certified organic logo means you don’t have to check the nutritional label.
Here’s the cold hard truth – most pre-packaged foods, whether organic or not, have little to no nutritional value in terms of what constitutes a healthy diet. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
When organic makes sense
Eating organic makes the most sense when it comes to fruit and vegetables that are eaten raw without peeling before consumption. When farmers use pesticides things like berries and leafy greens are the biggest culprits when they come to market. These pesticides cannot simply be washed off with water.
Health Canada and the FDA limits the amount of pesticide that can be used on our produce and the chemicals used have been declared as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe). However, consuming a diet with a lot of conventional produce (especially those with higher concentrations of pesticides) can over time wreak havoc on the body. Many of these chemicals have not been around long enough to really know the impact they have on humans long term.
In terms of produce you can look to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to their list of the dirty dozen and clean fifteen. These are updated annually but there are many repeat offenders in the leafy green and berry categories year after year.
In terms of “organic meat” – if you don’t think what the animals you consume are given matters, think again! I’m sure you’ve seen horror stories of the conditions that animals we eat must live in. Since the food industry is all about efficiency and mass production, many animals are pumped with growth hormone, fed diets that cause inflammation, get antibiotics routinely, and are in constant state of stress. The result is inferior meat.
More and more organic meat is popping up in grocery stores. This is meat that is from animals that are not given hormones or antibiotics.
When “Organic” really doesn’t matter
If you’re buying cookies, or other salty/sugary snack foods I wouldn’t worry too much about looking for that certified organic logo. The truth is it doesn’t matter whether a product is organic or not if it has little to no nutritional value. If you eat a box of your cookies made with “all natural, organic ingredients” than you’re still going to be in a caloric surplus, put on additional pounds, increase your BMI, then be at risk for a host of diseases.
Those pre-packaged items in the interior aisles of your grocery store might be organic, but compare the labels in terms of nutrition and you’ll find that they’re really just empty calories (with fancy certified organic cane sugar in the ingredient list).
Eating organic makes sense when it comes to fruits, vegetables, and meat. However, eating organic cookies or chips, no matter how nice the label looks or how good they taste, makes little to no sense at all. Have a look at the Environmental Working Group’s list of the dirty dozen. These are the fruits and vegetables that have the highest concentrations of pesticides when tested.