Organic vs Non-Organic: Part 1

Fruit & Vegetables


The question: Is organic more nutritious than non-organic?

The answer: We don’t know! There is no strong evidence or research that unequivocally proves that organic fruit and vegetables contain more nutrients. Researchers don’t think there is much difference nutritionally. What we do know is that local tends to be the most nutritious. Why is this? Locally grown fruits and vegetables that are ingested by your body within the shortest period of time after being picked or harvested have the greatest nutrient content due to the fact that nutrient content deteriorates through ripening and detachment from growth conditions.

Therefore, if the produce has to travel across the country or globe its nutrient content is diminishing over time. There was a statistic I read a while ago that suggested the average meal made from ingredients found at a typical supermarket had travelled approximately 1500 miles. You can imagine the nutrient damage that would have occurred in that time. Not to mention the time the produce spent in storage.

Therefore, in regard to nutritional value the best option is locally grown produce, whether it’s organic or not.

The real benefit of organic is the absence of pesticides. Now there is a grey area when we talk about pesticide use, exposure and residue contained in specific foods. Here’s the thing; not all fruits and vegetables are highly contaminated.

The Environmental Working Group compiled a list of the consistently clean and the dirty dozen fruit and vegetables. The dirty dozen are the produce that were found to contain high levels of pesticides/chemicals when ‘conventionally’ grown. The most contaminated fruits and vegetables, of which you should buy organic, are apples, bell peppers, blueberries, celery, cucumbers, grapes, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, spinach, strawberries, green beans and kale/greens.

The produce that proved to contain the lowest levels of chemicals were asparagus, avocado, cabbage, cantaloupe, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangoes, mushrooms, onions, pineapples, sweet peas, sweet potatoes and watermelon. All of which made it onto the Clean Fifteen List. These lists are based on American produce but it gives you an idea of what foods to watch for as farming techniques are fairly standard in developed countries. However, it is a very good idea to familarise yourself with the farming practices and regulations of your country, state and area.

Here are some take away tips for fruit and veggies:

  1. Nutrient stand point: the best is to buy locally grown fruit and veggies
  2. Pesticide content: organic is the better option but choose wisely from the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists as well as be knowledgeable of the food industry in your location
  3. If you have the means and you want to buy all organic, then great. But maybe look for local organic because then you’ll get high nutrient content with low pesticide contamination
  4. If you’re on a tighter budget – buy local and wash them well
  5. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to minimize your exposure to any one type of pesticide.

The important point is that you include a good amount and variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Vegetables in particular are ‘life givers’. They contain the substances we need for a strong immune system, detoxification of harmful chemicals and promotion of anti-aging properties.