Despite the seasonal mood swings we’re seeing here in the Northeast, spring is fast approaching. With it, farmer’s markets will begin popping up again and stoking our cravings for fruits and vegetables. Since a plethora of freshness will soon be available, you may be wondering about conventional versus organic options. What does organic mean? Is it worth the extra cost? Here, we will break down what organic actually refers to, and which organic fruits and vegetables may be worth the extra cost.What does "organic" really mean and why does it matter?
For a food to be certified organic, it must adhere to a set of strict standards related to all aspects of its lifecycle before it hits the grocery store, from seed to shipping. A few key requirements include that the food was:
- Not exposed to synthetic chemicals in fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, or additives—which does not mean that these are not used, merely that they are from natural sources
- Not irradiated (exposed to radiation) to preserve food freshness, reduce food borne illness, or delay ripening
- Not cultivated in the presence of sewage sludge, a by-product of sewage treatment from municipal or industrial wastewater
- Not started from a genetically modified seed
So which ones should I spring for?
If purchasing food grown to organic standards is important to you but your wallet can’t quite accommodate the excess cost, there are some foods that you should prioritize buying organic. A general rule of thumb for produce is to splurge on organic when you will be eating the skin. Foods that you can peel, like bananas, citrus, and avocado, have a barrier of protection against chemicals so you are less likely to eat high amounts. Below is a list of the fruits and vegetables that should be organic, if possible:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Summer Squashes
But why are they so much more expensive?
Even in your regular grocery store, you have likely seen an increase in the organic produce that is available. As more and more consumers are demanding organic produce, retail chains are happy to oblige. Aside from the ethical and environmental debate regarding organic foods, one thing that is readily apparent is the higher price tag. Typically, organic produce costs more because the yield is lower and there is a higher rate of food waste since no chemicals are used to artificially fertilize the soil and defend against pests.
With this knowledge in mind, and the guidance you gain from your personalized InsideTracker food recommendations, grocery shopping should be a breeze! Take advantage of the warm weather and fresh produce in our future!
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-  US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28. Version Current: September 2015, slightly revised May 2016. Internet: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/
-  Haenlein, G. F. W. "Goat milk in human nutrition." Small Ruminant Research 51.2 (2004): 155-163.