These days, I am contemplating where I stand on the debate between buying organic or local produce. It’s such a hard call, especially in my neck of the woods, where Winter is long and it’s slim pickings as far as produce goes during that time of the year. So, I have to ask myself: “Do I buy organic, and if so, what do I choose if I`m on a limited budget? Or, do I try harder to stick to local produce?”
As a soon-to-be Naturopathic Doctor, my sister is always my go-to person for questions related to nutritional health, so I asked her what she thought about this. She has summed it up in a great little article. I hope you find it as helpful as I did!
Organic vs. Local
By Renée Purdy
Every time you go to the grocery store, you may ask yourself the question: Should I buy conventionally grown produce, or stick to the organic section? Should I be buying imported produce? Here’s a little information to help you out.
Since we are exposed to toxins all day, it’s important to support the body as it works to get rid of them, and fruits and vegetables are great for this. Although organic and conventional produce are very similar nutritionally, the conventional produce is sprayed with many different herbicides and pesticides.
What’s the harm of pesticides? Pesticides, like many other toxins, can disrupt the very important hormonal pathways in the body by producing signals that will tell our body to produce more or less hormones than it normally would. They also place an extra burden on the liver, which is in charge of getting rid of the toxins that we have in our bodies.
Washing your fruits and vegetables is very important, but that won’t get rid of everything. Since the plants are sprayed as they are growing, the fruits and veggies take them up into their skin, flesh and seeds.
We all know that organic produce isn’t always available and that it is expensive. Here are two lists made up by the Environmental Working Group (http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/)to help shoppers make better choices in the produce aisle: the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen. This list changes once in a while, so visit their website often to make sure that you’re up to date.
EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce
Dirty Dozen Clean Fifteen
Celery Sweet corn
Strawberries (local and imported) Pineapples
Nectarines (imported) Sweet Peas
Grapes (imported) Mango
Sweet bell peppers Eggplant
Potatoes Cantaloupe (domestic)
Kale/Collard greens Watermelon
The other side of the debate is buying local. This has many advantages like cutting back on the fossil fuels used for shipping and a guarantee that use of some highly toxic chemicals like DDT weren’t sprayed on our produce since they aren’t banned in some of the countries where our food is grown.
Better yet, grow some of your own food. You can do this on a small patch in your yard, in some pots on your patio or even in your condo windows! This way, you know exactly what you’re eating, and nothing beats the taste of a freshly picked tomato!
To sum up, stick to local food as much as possible. Freeze some local fruits and veggies when they’re in season so you can enjoy them all year!
For other items that aren’t available year round, try using the dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists to make sure that you’re making the healthiest choices for you and your family!
But above all, make sure you’re eating lots of fruits and vegetables every day!