Should you go organic?
How much, if any, of your diet is organic? Do you ever choose organic fruit or vegetables or favour organic meat and dairy products over non-organic produce, or do you feel it is an unnecessary additional expense? As this month marks the start of Organic September I thought I’d answer the question as to whether we should we go organic. Organic food does not contain pesticides, herbicides and other toxic substances. If you are pregnant or trying to conceive you may be more susceptible to the effects of pesticides, therefore switching to an organic diet is probably a worthwhile investment.
There is also research that suggests organic food contains more nutrients than those sprayed with pesticides. A recent peer review study which studied pesticide levels in four American families for six days on an non-organic diet and six days on a completely organic diet found that switching to organic produce reduced their exposure to pesticides by over 60%. This is certainly a good reason to go organic, but does that mean we should all be hanging out in the organic aisle from now on? Here is my low down on going organic and which foods are worth the investment.
Opt for grass fed organic butter which is high in vitamins A, D, E, & K and fatty acids such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a healthy fat with anti-cancer properties.
When it comes to the white stuff, organic milk has a higher level of essential omega 3 fatty acids, iron and vitamin E than non-organic, although levels of selenium and iodine are slightly lower.
Organic, free range, grass fed meat and wild fish, can be expensive, so choose quality over quantity. A small amount of good quality meat can go a long way and even better bulk out your dish with extra vegetables and pulses. Conventionally raised meat, dairy and eggs may contain hormones, antibiotics or medications, not something we want to be eating!
For pregnant women or those trying to conceive, exposure to certain pesticides at critical stages in development can interfere with particular organs and their functions. Of particular concern are endocrine disrupting chemicals which affect hormone systems in the body and have been associated with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, and cognitive and brain development problems.
A vegetable box can be a good way of getting in organic produce and also increasing variety and diversity in your diet. Companies such as Riverford Organic can deliver a box of seasonal produce to your door with recipes and tips of how to enjoy them.
Every year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) produce a list called the Dirty Dozen, a list of the vegetables and fruit which are likely to contain the highest amounts of pesticides. They also produce a list of fruit and vegetables which are less likely to contain pesticides, otherwise known as the Clean 15. Here is a list of produce from the EWG for 2020:
Dirty Dozen Clean 15
1. Strawberries 1. Avocados
2. Spinach 2. Sweetcorn
3. Kale 3. Pineapple
4. Nectarines 4. Onions
5. Apples 5. Papaya
6. Grapes 6. Frozen Peas
7. Peaches 7. Aubergine
8. Cherries 8. Asparagus
9. Pears 9. Cauliflower
10. Tomatoes 10. Cantaloupe
11. Celery 11. Broccoli
12. Potatoes 12. Mushrooms
14. Honeydew Melon
In answer to should you go organic, I’d say yes buy organic when possible, and definitely yes if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive. However, getting vegetables and fruit into your diet in the first place should be your priority. If going organic is unaffordable or unavailable this shouldn’t stop you from eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables even if they are not organic. Use the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list to give you a steer on which fruit and vegetables to buy organic, but generally those with thicker skins are more protected from pesticides and therefore levels tend to be lower. Also make sure you thoroughly wash all your produce, and removing the skin or peeling can remove some of the chemicals.
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Disclaimer: Nutritional Therapy is not a replacement for medical advice, practitioners always refer any client with ‘red flag’ signs or symptoms to their medical professional. The information provided here is general and is not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any diseases or conditions.