I get asked all the time whether it is important or necessary for health to buy organic food. I also get asked which foods are most important to buy organically, versus which ones are okay to buy non-organically.
In Canada and the USA, foods labeled “organic” must satisfy specific standards. Farmers raising organic animals or growing organic crops undergo a certification process in order for their products to be labeled as such. In general, organic foods are grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and they are free of synthetic food additives. Whether organic food is “healthier” is up for debate. There are articles suggesting that organic foods have superior nutrient value, whereas others state that this is false. In my opinion, it depends what your definition of health is. If health for you is more vitamin C or potassium in your food, then the verdict is still out. If however, health for you is putting fewer chemicals in your body, then you could say that organic food is healthier.
Unfortunately access to organic food can be challenging. There is a greater financial commitment when purchasing organics, which is not a luxury everyone has. In addition, there is often limited variety when it comes to organic foods, unless you are shopping at a retailer that specializes in organics. My advice is to choose organic when and if possible. However, if buying organically restricts your intake of vital nutrients due to finances or limited availability, then it is not worth it. Remember that it is important to eat a variety and plentiful amount of plant products, organic or not. Hopefully in the near future organic food will become more accessible and less elitist.
Below is a list released recently from the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) of the produce that is most important to buy organically and those that are safe non-organically. Focus on buying those in the dirty dozen list organically. I would encourage you to purchase organic meat and poultry whenever possible. I say this because an animal can store and absorb a far greater amount of chemicals and antibiotics than a plant due to its mass and longer life cycle.
EWG’s Dirty Dozen:
- Bell Peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
EWG’s Clean Fifteen:
- Sweet Peas
Dr. Bianca Drennan ND, provides nutritional consulting and naturopathic medicine services at Pacific Wellness and is available for appointments five days a week. If you would like to detoxify and trim your body, improve your lifestyle or address certain health concerns please call us at 416-929-6958 or submit your online appointment request to arrange your initial appointment. The naturopathic appointments are covered by most employee benefits.