Organic foods aren't cheap, so you may be wondering whether it is worth it to buy them instead of conventional products. The main difference between organic foods and other foods is how they are grown and processed. Although it can be beneficial to your health to purchase some organic foods, these foods aren't necessarily more nutritious.
Organic foods usually have about the same amount of nutrients as conventionally grown foods, although some organic fruits and vegetables may have slightly more vitamin C, according to a study published in the "International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition" in September 2003. Fruits and vegetables raised organically may also have slightly less but higher quality protein than conventional produce. Organic milk and chicken sometimes contain more omega-3 fats, and some organic foods also contain more phosphorus, according to Consumer Reports.
The main benefit to eating organic foods is lowering your exposure to pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, since these foods are produced without synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, growth hormones or antibiotics. A study published in the "Annals of Internal Medicine" in September 2012 found that organic meat and poultry were 33 percent less likely to contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria and 30 percent less likely to contain detectable pesticide residues.
If you are trying to avoid chemical additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, MSG, artificial flavors and artificial colors, consider buying organic. Organic regulations limit the use of these types of additives, although you should still check the labels since some organic foods could still contain certain additives.
Organic junk food is still junk food and isn't healthy, although it is fine for an occasional treat. If you want to save money, opt for organic when fruits and vegetables are likely to be highly contaminated, and buy conventional versions of other types of produce. Apples, celery, lettuce, kale, pears, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, imported grapes, bell peppers and carrots are among the types of produce that tend to be high in contaminants, according to the Environmental Working Group.
- International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition: Organic Food: Nutritious Food or Food for Thought? A Review of the Evidence
- MayoClinic.com: Organic Foods: Are They Safer? More Nutritious?
- Consumer Reports: Don't Give Up On Organic Food, Our Experts Urge
- Annals of Internal Medicine: Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review
- HelpGuide.org: Organic Foods
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.