You’ve probably noticed in your grocery store that there’s a whole display of fruits and veggies (that usually cost more) labeled organic.
Lots of people just assume that it means they’re all-natural, but everything in the produce section was grown instead of manufactured, so isn’t all of it all-natural?
When something is labeled organic, it actually means that it was grown in a certain way. Organic foods are grown without the use of:
- Pesticides, which stop weeds and bugs from hurting a crop and are usually made with chemicals
- Fertilizers, which make the land better for growing crops and are usually made with a town’s sewage, animal manure, or man-made ingredients, like chemicals
- Bioengineering, when scientists change things about a crop in its DNA or genes to make it grow better
- Ionizing radiation, when produce is radiated to preserve it, reduce the risk of illness, prevent bugs, or slow down sprouting or ripening
Before a product can be labeled organic, someone from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) checks the farm and any companies that handle or process the food before you get it to make sure they’re meeting organic standards. This means that when you buy organic, it’s guaranteed to be organic.
However, when you buy organic, you’re also paying more because farmers who don’t use things like pesticides, fertilizers, and bioengineering usually get smaller crops from their land than other farmers. Those things were invented to help farmers grow as much food as possible, and when organic farmers don’t use them, it makes their jobs harder.
Each year, a company called the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out lists of which fruits and veggies have the potential to have the most pesticides on them and which don’t.
The Clean Fifteen are the fruits and veggies with little to no pesticides on them when you buy them at the store. The Dirty Dozen have the potential to have the most pesticides on them. Plus, they’re mostly things you either eat the peel of or don’t peel at all.
Whether you buy organic or non-organic produce, it’s important to get fruits and veggies in your diet. Just be sure to clean your produce properly before you eat it.
Why should you shop at farmers markets? One great reason is local food!
And make sure you keep your food safe at every stage by practicing safe food prep.