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The Big O

Should we eat organic or not? What exactly does organic mean, and the top fruits and veggies you should always buy organic!

To eat organic or not eat organic, that is the question.  Well not really – if price and convenience of shopping were not a consideration I’m assuming we would all eat organic.  At least those of us that have eaten organic and recognize the importance/benefit!  I love organics, crave organics and honestly cannot walk into a local, organic grocery store without experiencing a little bit of the Big O!!  The colors, the smells – everything is alive, fresh, and brimming with nutrients.  You should eat how you want to look and feel – bright, enthusiastic and crisp.  Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal and eat them first!!

According to Live the Organic Life.com the definition of “Organic” refers to food grown without synthetic pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, hormones, fertilizers or other synthetic or toxic substances.  No artificial flavors or colors have been added. Organic food does not include foods that have been irradiated or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
Organic food is produced by farmers who focus on using reusable resources and to conserve the soil and water so to ensure environmental quality for future generations.
Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.
Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers, bio-engineering, or ionizing radiation.

We recognize that eating organic may be more inconvenient and costly than running to your corner grocer or big box store and stocking up.  But the benefits far outweigh the costs - especially on the “Dirty Dozen”.  This is made up of the 12 fruits and vegetables that are the most contaminated with pesticides - which are bad for all of us but can be most harmful to pregnant women and children.   The top 5 offenders include apples, celery, strawberries, peaches and spinach.  As a general rule I always recommend to patients to try to buy organic products if you consume the skin of the fruit or vegetable.  I also suggest buying organic butter and organic/free range animal products as well since hormones and chemicals are stored in the fats of the animals we are consuming.

On a lighter and cheaper note to compliment the Dirty Dozen we also have the Clean Fifteen.  These are the produce with the least amount of chemicals and pesticides.  The top contenders are onion, sweet corn*, pineapple, avocado and asparagus.  The Clean Fifteen do not need to be organic.  However - most sweet corn is genetically modified (GMO) so I would personally recommend buying organic sweet corn if you’re looking to stay away from GMO.

The full list of both the dirty dozen and clean fifteen can be found at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/.  Print it out and put it with your shopping list.  Try to eat 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, an apple a day won’t keep the doctor away but if you tell her you’re eating 5-10 she’ll be ecstatic!!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dee August 02, 2011 at 08:21 PM
Thanks!y Your advice to "buy organic if you consume the skin of the fruit or vegetable" is easy and helpful to remember when I'm at the store and can't remember which fruits/veggies to buy organic. It sure is expensive but like you said - worth it in the end.
Jacque August 02, 2011 at 08:57 PM
Thanks for the information. I am suspicious about the designation 'Organic' because I am uncertain who is monitoring the foods and how stringently it is controlled. I am unfortunately wary about those kind of claims in the store since it would be an easy way to make more money. However, I know that foods that are truely organic are much healthier for our bodies. My Dad had a huge garden when I was growing up and he grew nearly all our produce using the methods in a large textbook entitled, "Organic Gardening" ... and that was long before 'organic' became a buzz word. There is a significant difference in the flavor as well as the nutritional content of the foods. I did not know about the 'dirty dozen' or about the 'clean fifteen' and that was useful information to me. Thanks for getting accurate information out there!
Jan Leasure August 03, 2011 at 12:08 PM
Dee; I never thought about the tip of "consuming the skin" as a reminder of what to buy organic -- what a great and simple thing to remember. So I have a question then; Would citrus (limes, lemons, oranges, grapefruit, etc.) not need to be organically grown to be pure, etc?
Dr. Jade Leasure August 03, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Unfortunately eating organic can be very costly. Stick to buying organic if you consume the skin helps decrease the cost for those items you should always have organic. As far as limes and lemons - if you are using the rind, I would most certainly buy organic. If you are not, and are only eating the inside (such as a banana or orange), you can stick to regular!
Dr. Jade Leasure August 03, 2011 at 04:22 PM
Thanks for your comment Dee! Sometimes when we get to the store its overwhelming with all the choices, labels, numbers and more. Having a way to pick and choose which are absolutely necessary to have organic, and which we can do without is a great help!
Dr. Jade Leasure August 03, 2011 at 04:25 PM
It's amazing to compare something like a raspberry that is organic to one that is not. The colors are completely different, and the taste varies too! If only everyone could have their own "victory gardens", we would save quite the $$ at the markets! We are glad we could clear up some information and hopefully make shopping for fruit and vegetables a little easier!
Sandy Mejers August 03, 2011 at 08:05 PM
Thanks, for the great info. I personally love anything that's organic made. Nothing beats knowing that the food I'm consuming was all naturally made and chemical FREE! And although it is a bit more expensive to shop on the organic side, it's definitely worth every cent!
Walter Trillhaase August 04, 2011 at 12:31 AM
My theory is that we waste a lot of money on junk. If we put it into our bodies we should be willing to spend a little more to eat healthier. In the long run staying healthy will help keep you out of the doctor's office. That in turn will save more than you are spending on fresh and organic foods.
Jan Leasure August 04, 2011 at 02:57 AM
Your comment is interesting; I hadn't looked at it from that angle, but the money spent treating my parents for serious health issues that may have been postponed or eliminated with a consistent healthier diet were far more costly than any healthier alternative foods would have been.
Dr. Jade Leasure August 04, 2011 at 03:12 PM
Absolutely! Thanks for the support Sandy. It's our personal goal to educate the public on the importance of what we put in our mouths. Don't forget also that the fewer the ingredients the better the product! Your apple and zucchini don't have or need nutrition or ingredient labels!! If you can't pronounce an ingredient you probably shouldn't be putting it into your body - organic or not! ;)
Kristin September 10, 2011 at 09:01 PM
WOW! What a wealth of information! I completely agree- "You should eat how you want to look and feel – bright, enthusiastic and crisp". We have started slowly buying more and more organic. At first I was overwhelmed and didn't know where to start however given some thought we started with what we consume the most of. This was dairy- no growth hormones please! My kids consume a TON of milk so we started with milk and yogurt, continued on to eggs and butter. My family also loves fruits especially strawberries- which are now on the organic only list! Since we have made these small but powerful changes we have all felt better! We too crave organics and fresh crisp tastes! Thank you for the information! Keep it coming!!!

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