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Organic Produce: Worth the extra buck?

Posted Mar 08 2010 12:00am

Although organic produce is becoming more prevalent, the price of it generally remains higher than its conventional counterpart. During these tough economic times, many people are left to wonder, is it worth the extra buck to go organic?

In my opinion, the answer is an emphatic ‘yes’! Not only do organic fruits and vegetables have less pesticide residue (which most people are aware of) and have more flavor (they really do taste better!), but they also have a higher nutrient content. A 2007 study out of the United Kingdom showed that organic produce contained up to 40% higher levels of some nutrients (including Vitamin C, zinc, and iron) than its conventional counterpart. Another 2003 study showed that organically grown berries contained 58% more polyphenols than conventionally grown berries. (Polyphenols are cancer-fighting antioxidants found in berries, as well as some other fruits and vegetables).

How is it that organic produce has more nutrients? Experts say that the secret is in the soil. Nitrogen in organic, composted soil is released more slowly than in conventional soil, which allows the fruit or vegetable to grow slowly. Fruits and vegetables that are fertilized with ordinary soil grow quickly and do not have time to develop all the nutrients they are supposed to. It is also important to know that nutrient content begins to decrease after harvest, so for the most nutrient-dense foods, choose locally grown, organic produce.

Please note that the focus of this blog is on fruits and vegetables. Although I personally feel that organic milk and hormone/pesticide-free meats are worth the extra buck too, that is a topic for a different blog. I am not, however, a strong advocate for organic, processed “junk”. I feel that companies that create organic snack foods are misleading consumers. Please don’t be one of those people that think eating an organic cookie is going to help you lose weight. Organic doesn’t mean that what you are eating isn’t still filled with sugar, fat and a lot of other organic junk.

If you would like to try going organic, but aren’t quite ready to commit more money to your grocery budget, check out the following list that highlights the fruits and vegetables that are most contaminated with pesticide and insecticide residues. You can pick and choose the fruits and vegetables most important to you and get the biggest bang for your organic buck.

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