Should We Recommend Organic?

–though you may talk a lot about organic, you may not actually know what it means.

Organic foods are commonly view as eco-friendly, more costly, and probably better quality foods. Annual sale of organic foods are growing indicates more and more health and eco concerned consumers are switching to organic foods. However, in terms of nutrient content, current research found no major difference between organic and conventionally grown foods (Magkos et al 2003). As the diet watcher of general public, how can you whether you should recommend organic foods?

What “organic” is for?

To have a clear concept of organic in mind is important. According to USDA Agriculture Marketing Service, Organic is “a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.” All the organic products are strictly regulated under the standards of National Organic Program. Different organic labels are used to determine the degree of product ingredients is organic. See labeling and marketing information on USDA website: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELDEV3004446&acct=nopgeninfo

Price difference

Though the nutritious vantage of organic foods is small, we all know the extra cost to buy organic product is considerable. Wealthy people can eat all the organic foods despite of high price, while other people make consider their budget to decide the amount to buy. When you consult people of different social economic status, keeping the actual price differences in your mind is important. According to the data from USDA Economic Research Service, the whole sale price of organic foods is 50%-100% higher than conventionally grown foods; for retails, due to the more fluctuant supply-demand relation, there is a 40%-150% higher in organic foods.

Produces

% higher in organic

Conventionally grown (dollars per pound)

Organic(dollars per pound)

Milk

100%

2.50

5.00

Egg

150%

1.50

3.80

Rice

150%

1.00

2.50

Carrot

40%

1.60

2.20

Salad mix

120%

3.80

8.20

Spinach

100%

4.50

9.00

Strawberry

50%

3.20

5.00

 Major health concern

One of the major factors for the high price of organic is because it doesn’t use chemical fertilizer and pesticide in the production process. So that the level of pesticide residue in foods is the major health concern at present (nutrient content is not the main concern since no significant difference was found).

The health effects of pesticides are considerable. Different types of pesticides will affect the nervous system, arouse skin and eye irritation, change hormone level, or cause cancers, respectively. Children are more susceptible to pesticides. Though washing the foods can lower the amount of pesticide, some new ones are developed to be waterproof now.

Due to the nature of differences in production, different conventionally grown foods have different. Tell people to buy those are necessary to buy organic can both benefit their health and help save their money. According to a 2010 report from Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org), 12 foods had been identified having the most residual pesticide and 15 foods had been suggested to be the cleanest:

Buy Organic:

  • celery
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • apples
  • domestic blueberries
  • nectarines
  • sweet bell peppers
  • spinach, kale and collard greens
  • cherries
  • potatoes
  • imported grapes
  • lettuce

 Buy Conventional:

  • onions
  • avocados
  • sweet corn
  • pineapples
  • mango
  • sweet peas
  • asparagus
  • kiwi fruit
  • cabbage
  • eggplant
  • cantaloupe
  • watermelon
  • grapefruit
  • sweet potatoes
  • sweet onion

Recommend people to buy organic according to their food consumption is a wise choice. When you find a patient loves apple eats 4 per day, you may consider telling him or her to buy organic to avoid the pesticide harm.

To achieve

Since we all know organic foods may not precede conventionally grown foods in nutrient content, what we can focus on at present are the pesticide level and the cost. Therefore helping people to choose the right type of organic food is beneficial. Also, organic foods can also be a tool to motivate people to eat more fruits and vegetables for their eco-friendly nature.

Reference:

Magkos, F., Arvaniti, F., & Zampelas, A. (2003, September). Organic food: nutritious food or food for thought? A review of the evidence. nt J Food Sci Nutr, 54(4), 357-371.

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