To eat organic, or not? That is the question!
And I’ve been asking it to myself quite a lot lately.
I’m not sure if my age has anything to do with it, I’m 30 now, but I’ve started to become a little more aware and conscious about the kinds of foods I’m buying for myself as well as for my family at the supermarket.
Does it matter if the fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meats we eat are organic, or not?
On a recent visit to Whole Foods, I met with Mina Batista. Batista’s a holistic health coach in the South Florida area. She’s also the author of The Script for a Healthy Lifestyle -Modern Diet Myths Debunked.
Batista talked to me about the differences between organic and conventional foods and gave Press Pass Latino a few tips on how we can make better, healthier choices without breaking the bank.
We all know how costly it can be to eat healthy, however, when it comes to our health can we really put a price on it?
But first things first, let’s discuss what organic really means. The word “organic” has been a buzz word in health circles for a while now so let’s get to the root of it.
Organic refers to the way farmers grow produce, this includes vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy products and meats. Farmers who refrain from using conventional farming methods such as synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers and GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) are farming organically.
This means they’re using natural fertilizer for the soil, crop rotation and other natural ‘as God intended them to be’ methods. These farming practices are more expensive and that’s why they’re expensive. Conventional farmers who use pesticides and chemical fertilizers to protect their crops from insects, mold and harmful diseases, are not growing organic crops.
How can you tell the difference between an organic fruit and a conventional fruit?
- Look at their physical state. Look at the color. For example, on one hand I have a shiny red delicious picture-perfect apple, on the other hand I have a not- so-shiny red delicious apple. Although the shiny red delicious apple is appealing, it’s more than likely conventional, that extra shine is wax that conventional farmers use to conserve the fruit for longer shelf life which as a result makes the apple look more attractive. You want to stay away from the shiny apple and go for the more dull-looking apple. So, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Conventional fruits and vegetables tend to be a little larger than organic ones.
- Read the label. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has established a strict organic certification program that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards. Any product labeled as organic means it has met all USDA processing standards and is USDA certified. 100 percent organic means exactly that, the product is organic and made of organic ingredients. Organic means that at least 95% of the ingredients used are were grown naturally.
- All fruits and vegetables at the supermarket have little sticker labels with codes on them. Organic fruits and vegetable codes have five digits and ALL of them start with the number nine.
Here’s a few helpful tips that Mina suggested for shopping healthier without going broke:
- One way to cut your cost is to buy what you need, when you need it. Don’t let your produce, meat or fish sit there for days if you don’t intend to eat it within 36 hours . Remember, organic foods aren’t waxed for long lasting shelf lives, so they will spoil faster.
- You can cut costs by visiting local farmer’s markets instead of shopping at the supermarket. You’ll get to see where your food comes from and you’ll be supporting your local farmers. Get to know the farmers who grow those delicious fruit, vegetables and dairy products. If you’re a mommy, make an event out of it and take your kids there. It’s a great way to educate them on farming and teach them about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. Some farms offer animal interaction hours and farm tours. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Here’s a list of local organic farms in South Florida:
Scooby’s Organic Farm
2230 SW 139 AveDavie, FL 33325954-309-8319
Farm Hours: Sun 2-5 p.m. & Wed- 3-6p.m.
Treehugger Organic Farms
1975 S Flamingo Road | Davie, FL 33325
Phone: (954) 471-5907
Produce Farm Hours- Wed- Thurs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. -3 p.m.
BEE Heavven Farm/ Redland Organics-
Located at Pinecrest Gardens Farmers Market
Sundays from 9 a.m.-2.p.m.
Recommended Conventional/Organic Foods
- All apples, berries, strawberries, anything that has a soft skin that you can eat, should be organic.
- All herbs, green leaves such as kale, lettuce, spinach and cabbage, beets, carrots, watercress, cucumbers, squash, red, green and yellow peppers, should also be organic.
- If the fruit or vegetable has a hard outer layer that you have to cut or peel, then those are okay to buy conventional. Some examples of conventional fruits and veggies are; bananas, oranges, pineapple, avocado, and watermelon.
So, why buy Organic?
As of right now, there are no studies or proof that show that eating organic foods is more nutritional than eating conventional products. However, Mina said “chemicals and pesticides are loaded with poison and are designed to kill living organisms. Eventually, this can contribute to poor health over the years.”
Eating organic is more of a personal choice and healthy lifestyle prerogative. It’s about living as natural as possible and straying away from processes of modification all while contributing to a healthier, greener environment.