Organic vs. Conventional: Don’t Feel Guilty

What’s the right decision when it comes to organic or not?  Is it more earth-friendly and better to feed your family?  Is it worth the extra dough to “go green” when it comes to how your good is grown?  These are all questions I have been asking myself recently and I wanted to find out myself.  Using tips from last week’s blog “New Research Finds that Buyers Should Beware,” I pulled a study published in this August’s edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review. This study reviews 162 articles in the past 50 years of the nutrient comparisons between foods grown organically versus foods grown conventionally including fruits, vegetables, meat and milk.  Out of 55 articles studied, the scientists found that there was not enough evidence to prove that organic is better than conventional foods, nutritionally.  Opponents of the study, those who favor organically grown food, are saying that the study did not consider the chemical residue and only looked at the differences in common nutrients in one’s body, not including the ones that science is unaware of.  Click here to see this opinion. Those who favor the study argue that fertilizing organically may contain bacteria like E. coli and more resources are being used to get the same rate of return of the crop, defeating the purpose of helping the environment.  Click here to see this argument.

Do I fashion my buying habits around the possibility of the food being contaminated by pesticides?  No, because I know that there is heavy regulation on agencies to only use safe pesticides.  Did I know that there is more nitrogen found in conventional food that is known to cause cancer then organically grown?  No, and this will cause me to explore more research on this specific topic.  I do know that organic food tends to have more sugar and organic meat tends to have higher trans fats.

As far as falling into the hype of organic, I don’t buy it.  The organic food has no more vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and zinc than conventional food.  There is no need for me to increase my food budget on account of where my tomatoes were grown.  How do I know that these tomatoes had a better life than those conventional ones?  Buyer Beware also says to not get caught up into marketing ploys.  Unless I go to this “organic” garden myself, then I am not believing anyone.  You can still get E. coli, salmonella, or mad cow disease from eating either types of food too.  When I do want to support local farmers and want fresh fruits or vegetables, I will go to my local farmer’s market,  but I think the label “organic” in general is over-rated and there is not enough of a difference for me to change my buying ways.

I believe that eating the right kinds of food, and this I mean a variety of grains, fruits, and vegetables, regardless of whether it’s organic or not, is still the best thing you can do.  “Organic” potato chips may be better for you than regular potato chips, but both aren’t as good for you as having a conventional potato.  I do, on occasion, buy “organic” when it’s the only thing available for a recipe or it’s cheaper than what I would buy normally.

I do know one thing: the next time I pass the “Organic” section at my local supermarket, I will not feel guilty for not buying anything in that section or wonder if I am doing a disservice to my family.  I will stick to reading labels and doing my own research to make informed decisions for my family and I.

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