By Samantha Cioppa
Often aimlessly tossed into the trash or washed down the sink drain, this key marker is paid little mind. However, it gleams words that differentiate the food upon which it is place – “Certified Organic.”
Naturally, when venturing to the supermarket, one will find a plethora of food, either distinguished as organic (no pesticides or added chemicals) or conventional (pesticides or chemicals). It can be burdensome and even impractical to buy every food as organic. Consequently, there are a few products that are worth buying organic, at a bare minimum, as their benefits cannot be ignored. [According to Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., apples, strawberries, and grapes, along with celery and spinach were found to have the highest rate of pesticide residue]. Thus, it’s efficient to purchase these foods organic, as it optimizes health benefits by eliminating the most toxic food from a diet. Contrastingly, [Dr. Weil also states it is not necessary to purchase organic pineapples, avocado, mangoes, and eggplant, as these were shown to have the lowest pesticide residue, making their possible harm insignificant.] Basically any fruit or vegetable with a thick outer layer is safe to buy conventional, as it protects the food from any toxins.
With everyone trying to “pinch-a-penny,” the hefty prices of organic food can induce sweaty palms, a knotted stomach, and an anxious attitude. Thankfully, buying these healthy foods does not have to bankrupt, so take a deep breath and calm down. Shopping for organics at a farmers’ market can significantly cut costs. Local farmers, who don’t have access to chemicals large corporations use, sell these products at reduced prices, as they don’t have to jump through all the hoops required when selling in a store such as Publix. Further, [buying in bulk whenever possible is a smart way to save. Beans, grains, lentils, and nuts should always be bought from bulk bins, which sell products at a much cheaper rate.] “If organic food cost the same as regular food, then I would definitely purchase organic. It just seems to be better for you so why not,” Senior Aaron Hendricksen inquires. Another strategy to buying organic on a budget is to [purchase these foods in season; doing so ensures a bargain. Fruits and vegetables are significantly cheaper when in season since they’re abundant, lowering demand, and therefore lowering price.]
Now, one may wonder, “Why go through all the trouble of buying organic?” [Studies show there are 50% more antioxidants found in organic rather than conventional foods. These important nutrients, which include vitamins and minerals, have many health benefits, such as preventing cancer.] “It’s great that organic food provides these health benefits. Just that alone should be enough to make everyone buy organic,” Senior Stephanie Zajac concludes. Additionally, organic foods are not genetically modified, [eliminating the risk of allergies and a vulnerable immune system]. Not to mention, it averts exposure to all the possible onsequences of GMOs that are not yet known. Aside from the numerous other health benefits, eating organic is also better for the environment. Pesticides are often found in water sources nearby, such as DDT, which can have detrimental repercussions for the land and the animals who inhabit it. Moreover, the [cultivation of organic foods does not erode the soil in an excessive manner.]
Distinguishing between “natural” and organic” can be confusing, especially when these titles are plastered across products with no explanation. The primary difference is that [organic has a regulated definition, while natural does not]. Due to this, natural is up to interpretation, indeed, even [high fructose corn syrup can be classified as natural.] When eating natural foods, there is still a risk of pesticides and GMOs. Conversely, organic foods have to meet specific USDA requirements to get this distinction, so organic always simply means just that…organic.
Transitioning to a healthier world, people are increasingly concerned with the contents of their food. Ever expanding its reach, organic food is here to stay. “I think organic is a growing trend because people want to be as healthy as possible. Also, those who want to take a stand and protect animals seem to be very supportive of this,” Senior Resa Barhold infers.