The organic food movement has picked up a lot of steam and has been fueled by the popularity of special diets, like the paleo diet. On TV and on social media, there is a lot of organic food advertisement and promotion. With all these messages, it’s natural to wonder if organic foods are worth the extra money.
The Added Benefit of Buying Organic
Organic foods are grown with less pesticides. I bolded less, because there is a misconception that there are no pesticides used in organic foods. While there is pesticide-use in organic farming, the pesticides are typically naturally-derived and lower in quantity. Additionally, there are no antibiotics used to in organic foods. For non-organic foods, farmers will use antibiotics to make livestock less prone to sickness. Many will take things a step further and use antibiotics to squeeze their livestock in crowded, dirty spaces. Lastly, I want to highlight that there are no growth hormones in organic foods.
Hormones and Organic Meats
Many meats, such as chicken and beef, are full of hormones. Hormones are fed to chickens, cows, and other livestock to make them bigger and grow faster. Unfortunately, the hormones don’t die when the animal dies. Instead, the hormones are transferred to you. In a recent doctor’s appointment, my doctor explained to me that these hormones can cause hormonal imbalances in people who consume these meats. Chicken, especially, is a big culprit. If you eat a lot of chicken, you may have higher levels of estrogen. For women, this can potentially lead to menstrual problems and weight gain. The high estrogen can also affect men; men can experience fatigue, weight gain, and even erectile dysfunction. My doctor’s takeaway message was to choose organic meats whenever possible.
Foods That You Should Prioritize Buying Organic
On average, it’s more expensive to buy organic food. I’ve seen estimates saying that it’s anywhere from 10% to 100% more expensive. The exact percentage will depend on what you buy, where you live, and the time of year. Since buying organic may not be affordable 100% of the time, you may have to prioritize what you choose to buy organic. To get the most value for your money, I recommend starting with The Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen.
Definitely Buy These Organic
The Environmental Working Group publishes a list each year of the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables. This list is commonly referred to as “The Dirty Dozen.” This year, the list includes strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes. Buying these fruits and vegetables organic will be more worth it than buying organic avocado or onions, whose non-organic counterparts are lower in pesticide residues.