I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of the great debate over organic produce vs. non-organic, or conventionally grown produce. Some believe there are no significant differences (or benefits) between organic and conventionally grown produce, while others are convinced that organic reigns supreme (raising hand because that is me!).
A study conducted in 2002 by Rutgers University revealed a vast difference in mineral content between organic and conventional produce, especially in terms of the minerals iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese and potassium. The Rutgers research also found 87% more trace elements and minerals in organic produce than in conventionally grown produce. Another study published in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that organic fruits and veggies have 50-60% higher levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants than non-organic fruits and veggies.
Higher mineral content and antioxidant levels aren't the only reasons to go organic though. A 2010 study done on California strawberries showed that organic soil had more enzyme activities and micronutrient levels. It also had higher amounts of genetic diversity, which is increasingly important for our planet. Global warming continues to create unpredictable weather patterns, and genetic diversity will help protect our food during climate change.
Alternatively, conventionally grown produce has negative effects on both our bodies and our environment. Some fumigants and pesticides actually sterilize soil so much that beneficial microorganisms can no longer thrive. Instead, we're left with soil that is devoid of nutrients.
The damage doesn’t stop with decreased nutrition and environmental problems, however. Synthetic pesticides that are used to kill or repel pests such as insects, weeds, microorganisms, rodents or fungi, don't benefit our bodies. If pesticides are poisons made to kill pests, why are humans consuming them? You can certainly argue that the dose makes the poison and that these chemicals could never add up to a large enough amount to do harm. I don't know about you, but when I think about consuming produce over the span of my entire life, that adds up to a lot of chemicals in my body.
Conventionally grown produce may also contain herbicides and chemical fertilizers. The average conventionally grown apple has 20 to 30 artificial chemicals on its skin, even after rinsing! Food for thought, isn't it? Every time you consume conventionally grown produce, you consume these pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, you are consuming poison. The more you consume the greater harm is being done to your body.
Another reason to avoid conventionally grown produce is to avoid genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. A GMO is any organism in which the genetic material has been altered or shuffled around in a way that does not occur naturally. GMOs on the market have been given genetic traits to provide protection from pests, diseases and bad weather. For example, tomatoes and strawberries are crossbred with artic fish genes in order to tolerate frost. Farmers who use GM crops can spray their fields to kill everything growing in the area except the food crop. Imagine what is being killed in our bodies when we eat these foods.
Though organic food is usually more expensive, the extra money you spend for quality food may save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in future doctor bills. As the market for organic produce continues to grow, more items should become available and the price may even drop a bit.
Make an effort to invest in your health. You will be thanking yourself later!
Shakera Leigh Halford is a holistic health coach, yoga instructor, fitness instructor and beauty professional. She is passionate about helping women learn how to become the best version of themselves. She teaches women how to balance family, health and beauty though her amazing wellness and weight loss programs.