Is Organic Really Better?

It’s a highly debated topic.

“Should I eat organic? If so, how much?  Just fruit and vegetables, or everything?”

As it is so often, the answer is somewhere in the neighborhood of “it depends”.

What it depends on is what someone means when they say “better”. 

I’ve been asked this question several times, and I always dig a little deeper into what the person asking the question is really asking.

Usually, it’s one of two things.  Either they want to know if organic foods are better for you than non-organic, or they want to know if organic foods are healthy.

Again, the answer is “it depends.” 

I know, I know.  I haven’t been exactly helpful so far, but hang with me.

In regards to the first question, whether or not organic foods are better than non-organic I would say this:

If someone is talking about fruits and vegetables, then yes..absolutely they are better for you.  They don’t have less calories or more nutrients, but organic fruits and vegetables are free of pesticides and chemicals that you ingest when you eat them.  These chemicals have been suggested to lead to all kinds of undesirable effects…you know, things like cancers.

However, even if these chemicals didn’t have negative side effects, you would still be ingesting chemicals used to kill and ward off insects.  Do you really want to eat that?

On the other hand, if someone is talking about organic Pop-Tarts (yes they exist) then I would say this; any fruit and grains used in the Pop-Tart should be free of pesticides, which is a plus, but it is still a highly processed, refined food that has been manufactured in a factory somewhere.

Which brings us to the second question, “Are organic foods healthy?”

Using the above example of an organic Pop-Tart, I would say no, not all organic foods are healthy.  However, often times processed organic foods have a much shorter ingredient list, are less manufactured and a bit closer to something resembling food then their non-organic counterparts.  Often, but not always.

For example, if my wife and I ever eat mac and cheese, we get a brand called Annie’s. 

We like it for several reasons, like the wheat is not enriched, bleached or pesticide laden, but rather organic, durum wheat.  It also tastes a ton better then the plastic-y, processed alternative,the cheese tastes like cheese and it has an ingredient list that’s half as long as other brands.

We don’t eat it because we think it’s a healthy option, but we eat it because we like it better and it’s not as bad for you.

Again, let me be very clear in saying that just because something says organic doesn’t mean that it is a healthy option, but it could be a better option then the alternative.  It’s something you’ll have to do a little research on and decide for yourself, and something that will certainly differ from product to product.

To recap, organic fruits and veggies are always a good choice.  Other organic foods can be a better, but not necessarily, option then non-organic foods.  This, however, does not make them a healthy choice.

There you have it, my incredibly clear and concise thoughts on the organic conundrum.  I know I wasn’t completely black and white, but as is the case with anything health related…it rarely is.

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