Organic vs Traditional Produce – Which is Best?

Shopping for produce can be a bit confusing. There are so many varieties of different items in the produce section of your favorite stores. You also add the battle of finding something that is ripe enough but not too ripe. To be sure you are getting all your nutritional requirements, you might consider a multivitamin or even add apple cider vinegar to your daily routine.

When shopping for produce the produce section will also ask you to choose between organic and non-organic produce. This can leave you asking, “Is organic or non-organic produce better,” and we have your answer!

Is Organic or Non-Organic Produce Better?

Are organic foods different?

Many people will look at the organic produce section and ask if it’s that different. Most produce looks similar to the non-organic section. Some of the organic produce may even be smaller or have a much higher price point. This can leave you asking if the added investment is worth it, especially in recipes. Let’s talk about what is different between organic produce versus non-organic produce.

  • Non-organic foods are chemically treated. – These items are typically treated with pesticides including insecticides, rodenticides, herbicides, fungicides, and antimicrobials. While some believe that you can just wash these chemicals off, this is not true as they are part of that produce’s growing process. There is a high likelihood you are ingesting varying amounts of these chemicals when eating non-organic produce.
  • Organic foods are not chemically treated. – Organic growers have found ways to grow the same produce without some of the harmful pesticides and chemicals. This means that the produce is grown free of many harmful chemicals and is safer for you and your family. Many organic farmers will use a combination of composting and natural predators to control pests on their farms to give you the healthiest products possible.

Should I buy only organic produce?

When working on the grocery budget, many will look at the cost of organic produce and debate on the expense. They may even ask if they have to make the switch to all organic or only partially organic produce. The more organic items you can buy, the better your results will be. However, some items are more chemically treated than others. Here are nine items you should buy the organic version of:

  1. Apples – Non-organic Apples can have up to forty different pesticides on them. Because insects and fungus are more drawn to apples, they will often be treated more than your average produce. Farms will spray their farms excessively to control pests and fungus. Keep this in mind when buying apples, apple sauce, or apple juice as these chemicals could be in all of these items.
  2. Celery – Non-organic Celery is made with up to 60 different pesticides. When shopping for celery, it is best to go organic or find an alternative option.
  3. Strawberries – Bugs love strawberries which means they are coated in harmful pesticides and chemicals. Due to their porous nature, strawberries will absorb all of the chemicals and treatments used on them.
  4. Peaches – Peach farmers will use up to sixty different chemicals to prevent pests in their orchards. Peaches that are not organic can have all of these chemicals on them and in the actual peach. It is best to avoid non-organic peaches and even canned peaches because of these chemicals.
  5. Spinach – Of all of the leafy greens, spinach has the highest amount of pesticides used in the growing process. This will also include frozen varieties. If you are eating spinach make sure to buy organic to avoid chemicals.
  6. Grapes – Most non-organic grapes are treated with up to thirty pesticides to grow well. This extends to grades, raisins, and even wine! It is important to look at organic options when possible with grapes.
  7. Sweet Bell Peppers – Sweet bell peppers are covered in pesticide residue to avoid pests and other issues. Avoid non-organic bell peppers when possible.
  8. Potatoes – Potatoes are high in pesticides. When looking for potatoes, go organic with potatoes, avoid items such as french fries made with the same non-organic potatoes.
  9. Blueberries – Blueberries are treated with a large variety of pesticides to help them make it to the store without damage from pests. Frozen blueberries have less residue but it is better to buy fresh organic blueberries where possible.

How do I know if an item is truly organic?

Only completely organic produce can carry a USDA seal. Non-single-ingredient products that have most of their ingredients (95%) can say “Organic.” Products made with mostly (70%) organic can say “Made with Organic Ingredients.” Labels that say, “all-natural” may or may not be truly organic. These labels can help you to know that an item is organic. Short of starting your own organic garden, be sure to read the labels carefully at the grocery store.

Another way labels can help you with produce shopping is by looking at the label on the produce. On loose fruits and vegetables look at the PLU sticker. If the produce is organic, the code will have five digits beginning with nine. Non-organic produce will have four digits. For instance, an organic item may say 94011 while a non-organic produce item will be labeled as 4011.

So why buy organic?

If you aren’t sure yet about buying organic, here are a few more reasons to consider. These are reasons we choose organic produce for our home. Even better, these reasons can give you more motivation to pick organic options when visiting the store.

  • Organic produce tastes better. – The flavors in most organic produce will be better than those of their non-organic counterparts. This is because they are the most natural version of the produce and aren’t changed by added chemicals.
  • Organic produce is more nutritious. – Because of the removal of pesticides and chemicals, organic produce can be better for you and keep many of the nutrients you need the most.
  • Organic produce is great for the environment. – Not only is organic produce good for you, but it’s also good for the environment as well. Without pesticides, you can be sure that you are protecting your environment as well.
  • Organic produce supports local farmers. – Many local farmers will provide organic produce to retailers. This means that you are making a healthy choice while supporting farmers in your area. Talk about a win-win!

If you are still worried about getting enough produce in your diet, we recommend Just Juiced Veggies, which has 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables in each serving.

2 Responses

  1. I have learned a lot about organic and non organic vegetables. I am going to start looking for the labels. I will be watching for the number 9 being the first to see.

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