Jen Adams - Veg Box

Which Foods to Buy Organic

Is it really worth the extra cost and effort? 

With a general trend towards healthier eating and towards diets containing more whole foods, we are also seeing organic foods becoming increasingly popular. Organic farming practices have been around for thousands of years, but production of organic foods for the mass market has been growing steadily in recent years as a reaction to the growing dependence on pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in modern farming methods.

By choosing to include organic foods in our diet, we are essentially electing to have less exposure to these chemicals and also to the antibiotics, additives, preservatives and hormones that are used in non-organic farming practices.  Little is known or understood about the effects that long-term exposure to produce that is not farmed organically can have, but there is no denying that we are starting to reject our constant exposure to toxins in a bid to have more control over our health and wellbeing.

In addition, organic fruits and vegetables - simply by way of farming methods - are considered to be higher in antioxidants and nutrients than many of their non-organic versions. And a European study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2016 found that organic milk and meat contain about 50% more omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic.

Are they worth the extra?

Affordability Organic foods are typically more expensive to produce than their non-organic counterparts, and a heavily organic diet is a lifestyle that is not affordable for many. But by understanding which foods have the widest exposure to a range of chemicals and prioritising these as ‘the best’ foods to buy organic, it is possible to effectively reduce our consumption of potentially harmful toxins and increase our consumption of more nutrient-rich produce without busting the food budget.

In the UK, experts regularly test a wide range of foods, including grains, for pesticide residues. By knowing which foods are found to be the biggest sinners and focusing on making sure that we buy organic versions of these in priority of the foods that we most often consume, then we are doing a better job of making our diets a little healthier.

The Top 10 Foods to have Organic

Grapes, Apples, Berries, Celery, pre-packed Salad leaves, Tomatoes and Cucumber all regularly make the sinners list so organic versions – including drinks – of these products could be given priority when considering switching to organic. Dairy products are also worth considering for organic versions and milk, being a product many of us buy regularly and in bulk, is worthy of a top 10 place towards the very top of the list. Potatoes are also a food which should make the top of the list again simply for the reason that we eat so many of them – and in so many different forms.

Which leaves one more spot

We would suggest that Meat deserves a space on the list, but given the cost of meat in general and the even higher cost of organic versions, it would be number 10 on our list, and it would be a good idea to focus on the one meat that you tend to eat the most of.

What about wholegrains

Bread, cereals and pasta all tend to have fewer residues than fresh produce but the information and advice surrounding whether or not organic versions should be considered a priority seems to vary. It would seem sensible to suggest that if you and your family consume any of them in high quantities, then they could be considered as a replacement for the number 10 spot and especially so if organic meat really is a stretch too far for your pocket.

Spend your Shopping bill wisely

It’s quite easy to fully embrace the organic lifestyle, but it should be said that it is worth spending wisely and focusing the additional expenses where it is most beneficial. Foods that have skin and outer shells that you don’t eat, or thick layers that you can peel off before eating the inner fruit/vegetable – and therefore are much less contaminated with pesticides than other foods we have already considered - don’t need to go on your organic foods shopping list. Avocados, cabbage, kiwi, mangoes, pineapples, onions, aubergines, grapefruit and melons are all foods which can go on the non-organic shopping list.

Trend not Trendy

What cannot be disputed is that organic is becoming steadily more prevalent in the trend for healthier eating and as a result, organic food is more widely available than ever. The organic foods market in the UK recorded the fifth year of growth in 2017 and exceeded £2billion in sales for the first time (soilassociation.org) with 39% of shoppers known to be buying organic food on a regular basis. Organic is definitely the option that has become ‘healthy’ rather than ‘trendy’.

Final word from Jen: where possible by organic, farm shop or local. However do not let this be an issue to not buying more fruit and vegetables, I would rather you eat these every day rather than worrying about the costs and where to buy them.

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