Food Columnist Karina Alexander navigates the haze of organic food labels and suggests what to splurge on and what’s okay to buy non-organic

Methods of growing produce have expanded from simple backyard cultivation to mass production of fruits and vegetables. In order to meet the high demand for food, producers use unnatural methods of farming, including using high levels of toxic substances on plants. These days, it is difficult to navigate buying produce, and to know what labels on the products are actually saying. What is the difference between organic and certified organic? Is it really worth it to shell out the extra few dollars? Is there a nutritional difference between conventional produce and organic produce?

Conventional Produce:
– Growers use pesticides that contain harsh substances.
– Weeds are removed with chemicals.
– Sprays are used to control insects and pests.
Produce to buy conventionally: Bananas, cabbage, asparagus, kiwis, onions, avocado, melon.

ORGANIC:
– No pesticides are used.
– Weeds are removed naturally.
– No sprays directly on the plants .
– There still may be traces of chemicals on food if fertilizer is used that contains chemicals.
Produce that should be bought organic: Apple, bell peppers, carrots, celery, cherries, kale, lettuce, peaches, strawberries. Anything that you eat the skin of!

Certified Organic:
– Producers must apply and constrain to strict organic standards when growing produce
– Very long process, includes inspection
– Must adhere to rules regarding levels of toxicity in soil
– No pesticides used, no sprays, and no chemicals are allowed in the growing process

So is it even worth it to buy organic produce? There have been many studies done about differences in nutrition-wise in organic and conventional produce. Nutritionally the two are said to be equivalent, but the consumers generally prefer the taste and better flavor of organic produce. The buyer is also helping both the environment and personal health when eating organically. There are less toxic substances that are leached into the body and less health problems that follow. Who wants to have a body full of toxic chemicals that can lead to sickness if they can avoid it?

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