Why eat organic? Let’s take a step back. Interestingly, all food grown and raised used to be just “food” - no classifications of conventional versus organic, etc. Organic is the original state of food, no additions, modification or changes, it just is. Then, agricultural labs created and introduced chemicals used for fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides to help increase volume and lessen crop destruction. That became the norm, which made organic require its own name and labeling, even though organic was the first on the scene; food in the original state.
What does organic mean? Organic means standards have to be followed and proven in the way a food (plants as well as animals) is grown. These rules are reviewed before the start of the crop and animal existence to its harvesting to make sure it is protected from additions of chemicals, GMO changes, safety, living conditions, and processing. It isn’t just about the food itself, it includes the big picture of ecological balance, biodiversity and living in harmony with our environment. For animals being raised, it takes into account the foods they eat and the conditions they live in, which then affects the resulting meat based food that we eat.
So, why the fuss? With the addition of chemicals, as well as GMO’s to our food, we have to take into account that our body needs to do something with these unnatural additions to what we introduce into our systems and our environment. Chemicals on our food show in our blood tests, urine tests and stool samples. Even umbilical cord tests show to contain hundreds of the chemicals that are added to our foods. These chemicals are in us because the food we eat contains them, and water run off from fields, end up in our drinking water sources. People who eat organic show less of these chemicals in their blood/urine tests because they eat less food that contain them. We know that chemicals are often toxic and increase our risk of cancer, obesity, heart disease, and so on. Less chemicals used for growing our foods mean less in our environment that end up in our air and water and that affects us all.
Organic foods do tend to carry a premium price. My advice is to buy organic for the the fruits and veggies you eat the most as that will have the most impact. When buying conventional - wash, peel and scrub to reduce the chemicals on those foods before consuming.
We are so lucky here in the Okanagan where we have access to so many local farms where there is often less spraying. Since organic certification costs the farmers a pretty penny, some farmers closely follow organic farming practices, but do not become certified. This gives the consumer a chance to purchase close to organic produce, at a lesser price. When we buy organic and less chemically impacted non-GMO foods, we are saying it is important and allows other companies/farms to take notice and look at how to provide what the consumers want. Less chemicals are good for all of us and our environment.
How to choose? Note that some crops use less chemicals in conventional farming. The EWG.ORG website has an annually updated list of which conventionally grown foods are the best for the least amount of chemicals, and which are the most chemically treated. These lists are called the Dirty Dozen (worst) and the Clean 15 (best). The dirty dozen are the ones you are most likely to want to buy organic or less sprayed as tests done show they are the highest in chemicals. Alternatively, you can peel or wash them very well with diluted vinegar. The clean 15 are foods that do not show to have much if any chemicals added.
In the end, fruits and vegges should be at least 50% of your food choices so get as much options on your plate as you can!