Buying Organic…Does it Really Matter?

In case you’re short on time, I’ll give you the quick answer…YUP, it totally matters.

(For those of you with a little more time and looking for a bit more info, keep reading!)

I’m sticking with the detoxification theme this week because I feel that it’s relative to everyone. Detoxification is an integral part of being healthy and I don’t ever remember being told that…as a child or an adult. I spent the better part of 35 years thinking being constipated was just the way my body worked (it’s actually no big surprise I ended up with an autoimmune disease…<enter “eye-roll” here>). Supporting your body so it can better perform the detoxification processes (getting rid of toxins in the body!) will have a direct impact on your health. I get so fired up with this stuff I want to get the information out there for others so they know how they can help themselves. 

So, how does buying organic tie into detoxification in the body? In short, organic farming uses less chemicals and therefore is less taxing on the body’s detoxification processes. Chemicals found on conventionally grown foods end up in our bodies when we eat these foods and the body must then detoxify and eliminate them. If your body’s detoxification system is not in tip top shape (which is the case for many of us…even the healthiest ones!), they can build up in the body, adding to our toxic load. These chemicals have been linked to things like fertility issues, autoimmune disease, digestive illnesses, birth defects, and cancer. Organic foods are safer for you and your family. 

But it’s more expensive!

When I recommend to clients they should eat organic/non-GMO as much as possible, I often hear complaints about the cost of making that switch. I get it…it’s a thing. Years ago when the suggestion was presented to me, I had the same complaint – it’s more expensive to buy organic foods and that’s a hard pill to swallow when food is already expensive. Oh, and then there was the other issue I had with organic produce…the bugs! Every time I bought something organic, it seemed to have bugs in it and I was completely grossed out! Now, I have a much more rational view and realize you can just wash them off. That, and the fact that if bugs are alive on the produce, chances are I don’t have to worry about chemicals that might be on it! We are now almost completely organic (as much as possible) in our house. Admittedly, it was a bit of a transition, but completely worth it regarding my health and that of my family. We did give up a few things to help offset the additional cost (like eating out as often, which was healthier for us anyway), but we also made some changes that made us more organized in the kitchen. We started planning meals better, so more often used all of the more expensive stuff we were buying and although we already made healthy choices, our eating habits improved even further. 

Does all produce have to be organic?

This question almost always follows my suggestion to go organic. My answer (and what we practice in our house) is that as much as possible, buy organic. Reality is though, that’s not always possible – particularly in a city like I live in where it’s just starting to get easier to find organic products in the regular grocery stores. Time of year also plays a role in what’s available in the organic section – what you can find is definitely limited during winter months. That’s when we turn to frozen and non-GMO foods. In the frozen organic section, you can find a boat-load of organic fruits and veggies that are just as nutritious as fresh foods (and sometimes more so). And I love that when we buy frozen, I don’t have to fret about not using it fast enough and having it go bad in the fridge. 

A great resource we use is from the Environmental Working Group (EWG)…the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15, put out every year. The Dirty Dozen is a list of 12 produce items that you want to buy organic, to reduce your pesticide exposure (otherwise don’t buy them at all). According to the EWG, the USDA found 225 different pesticide chemicals on popular fruits and vegetables we eat every day. The most shocking part for me is that before testing, all produce is washed and peeled, as folks would do themselves before prepping and consuming…and still 225 chemicals were found! That’s really something to think about when you’re grocery shopping. For 2019, foods on the Dirty Dozen include:

  • strawberries
  • spinach
  • kale
  • nectarines
  • apples
  • grapes
  • peaches
  • cherries
  • pears
  • tomatoes
  • celery
  • potatoes
Recognizing that cost is a significant factor in so many households, the EWG also puts out the Clean 15 list – foods you can feel safe buying even if they’re not organic…that definitely helps with the budget. The foods listed on the Clean 15 for 2019 (that had few, if any pesticides when tested) include:
  • avocados
  • sweet corn
  • pineapples
  • frozen sweet peas
  • onions
  • papayas 
  • eggplant
  • asparagus
  • kiwi
  • cabbages
  • cauliflower
  • broccoli
  • mushrooms 
  • honeydew melon 

More than 70% of these foods were found to have no pesticide residue on them when tested…great news that makes it easier (and cheaper) to be mindful of what you’re buying for you and your family. Another thing we’ve been doing for the past few years is buying the produce items on the Clean 15 list at our local farmers market, from vendors who offer “spray free”. This way, we’re getting the best of both sides of the coin. 

Even though buying organic foods will definitely cost more, using these lists and some of the ways I’ve accommodated making the switch to organic as guidelines can help make it less of a burden on your wallet. And more great news…urine test analyses have found an average of 60% lower levels of pesticide compounds in adults and children after only six days of eating organic foods! So it’s never too late to make the switch. We deal with so many things in our lives that we just can’t control – when we come across things we do have control over, why not at least make an effort to go for it? And I come back to every single time is that my health and the health of my kids and husband are worth the effort.