Organic vs Non-Organic Foods

We’ve all been there. Stuck deciding between two identical zucchinis with vastly different prices, wondering if the hefty price demanded by the organic variety is really worth it, and whether buying the organic zucchini means you won’t have enough money to fund your peanut butter addiction. 

Well wonder no more, because here’s all you need to know next time you’re stuck!

What’s organic?

First off, unfortunately the term ‘organic’ is not regulated in Australia, meaning anyone can slap that bad boy on their product and get away with it. I think I’m going to start doing organic nutrition consults…

If you’re wanting to buy foods that are definitely organic, look for the phrase ‘certified organic’, as that term is protected by Australian Certified Organic (ACO). Products bearing this label must fit a strict set of criteria regulated by the ACO, covering things such as farming practices, acceptable levels of chemical contamination and banning of genetically modified ingredients.

But should you care?

Better for you

Studies comparing the levels of nutrients in organic vs. non-organic fruits and vegetables have found there to be no difference between the two. This means there’s no evidence to suggest that we’re getting ‘more nutrition’ from organic fruits and vegetables. 

Things get a bit trickier when it comes to processed foods, thanks to a marketing concept known as the ‘health halo’. Basically, we associate words like ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ with healthy and so are more likely to overconsume products with these labels than their unnatural and inorganic counterparts.  

For example, there is actually such thing as organic Coke. I’m not making this up. 

Organic Coke

If Coke brings you joy then it can absolutely be included in moderation as part of a healthy diet, but don’t for a second believe that drinking organic Coke is really any different to regular Coke. 

This is obviously an extreme example, but it holds true for many products pulling a similar trick. Organic chocolate is still chocolate, and therefore extremely calorie dense. Organic ice cream is still ice cream, and therefore extremely calorie dense. It’s not that we can’t have these foods, it’s just that we need to view them in EXACTLY the same way that we view regular chocolate (ie. while salivating). 

Pesticides

First up, organic farms still use pesticides. Secondly, the levels of residual pesticides remaining on fruit and vegetables is in such low amounts that our body deals with it easily, in much the same way it deals with all the other chemicals it comes into contact with on a daily basis. 

Better for the environment

This is also unfortunately a misconception, thanks to the lower yield of organic crops. A 2014 study found that organic crops actually yield 20% less produce than regular crops. 

So if you love buying organic produce and it fits within your budget, what should you do? Keep buying it! There’s nothing with it. But if you’re feeling left out or guilty for not buying it, rest assured you’re getting plenty of nutrition from regular old fruits and vegetables. 

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