The pot's been stirred again. Last week, Stanford University's Center for Health Policy released a study reviewing data from 237 previous ones; these studies focused on the difference between the nutritional value of organic and conventionally grown food. The finding? There is no measurable difference.
And, again, people are up in arms.
This study, and our reaction to it, reveals a central problem: people are confused. Really confused. A trip to the grocery store has become a stressful activity filled with unanswered questions. What is organic food? What justifies its high cost? Why buy into it?
I'm sure you've read about the "dirty dozen." (The dirty dozen is a group of fruits and vegetables most likely to absorb toxins). To me, the reason to choose organic foods, or at least this selection of organic foods, is to reduce my family's exposure to toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Studies show eating organic foods will expose you to 31% fewer pesticides and a lower level of food-borne pathogens.
But can you afford to go organic? While I used to load up my grocery cart with organic foods, my budget no longer allows it. So, now I buy the "dirtiest" fruits and vegetables I can. Then I add conventional food to the mix. (I feel safe in my belief that a conventional carrot is a whole lot better for one's health than a Twinkie).
I've also begun to explore locally grown food. Talk to your grocer or the farmers at your local market. Many farmers use the same techniques that organic farmers do. The naturally grown label, for example, requires farmers to use most of the same processes. They chose to pursue this label as opposed to the organic one because it is less costly for them. The catch? Farmers inspect each others' farms, which could represent a conflict of interest.
I know it is all confusing. Do your best to navigate the produce aisle given your current information and your budget. Always ask questions. You'll make the right decisions.
For your convenience, here is the Forbes list of the dirty dozen for 2012:
- Bell peppers
- Imported nectarines
- Domestic blueberries