'Organic' doesn't always make sense...

'Organic' doesn't always make sense...

Most of the time, buying organic makes sense and helps you to avoid ingesting man-made chemicals, like pesticides, fungicides and insecticides.  But, sometimes when you pay for a certified organic product, you just wasting you money.  How can that be?  Ask an farm, organic or not, and they'll tell you: pesticides, fungicides and insecticides are applied to the outside of the plant, and when there is an impervious barrier between the outside and the part of the plant we eat, the part we eat remains untouched and identical to organically grown.

When does it make sense to buy organic and when doesn't it?

Here are some examples:

When it does make sense to buy organic:

  • lettuce and other greens
  • raspberries
  • strawberries
  • tomatoes

With these crops, you just cannot effectively wash any residues off them. Consumer Reports tests show that:

Rinsing conventional fruit and vegetables doesn't effectively reduce pesticide residues that are left behind. 

And since you eat the outer surface or it is soft, irregular or absorptive, to which the residue adhere, you are eating the residues.

 

When it does not make sense to buy organic:

  • avocados
  • bananas
  • cantaloupe (a.k.a., muskmelon, honeydew)
  • peanuts
  • watermelon
  • winter squash

These crops all have dense, thick outer peels, shells or rinds that are effective at keeping out any possible contaminants.

 

And sometimes... it's not really clear

  • Like apples.  If you eat the peels, buy organic. If you peel them first, don't!
  • Potatoes...They are grown underground, safe from any pesticides or insecticides.  The problem is after they harvested, they are often strayed with all kinds of chemicals: fungicides to preevent fungus growning on them in storage, rodenticides to keep rodents from eating them, even "sprouticides" to keep the spuds from sprouting.  So in this case, if you eat the potato skins, buy organic!
  • Milk: Turns out, chemicals for cows are expensive, so most dairy farmers are loathe to use them, UNLESS the health of the cow is at state.  As one farmer told us, "I care for these animals, they're like part of the family.  And when they are sick, they need medical attention.  If an antibiotic can save a cow's like, of course, I do that!"  But the laws for NON-organic milk already require that once a dairy cow is given antibiotics, it must be remove from dairy production for 6 months and tests show that any residues are gone from their system. There are still other aspects to consider, like feed and conditions.  See this page for a detailed comparison of organic vs. non-organic milk.

References

  1. Consumer Reports.org, 2014
  2. USDA Guidelines for Organic Certification of Dairy Livestock
  3. NBC News "Yep, organic milk really is better for you than regular milk"
  4. The Los Angeles Times, USDA imposes new standards for milk to qualify as organic, By P.J. HUFFSTUTTER, FEB. 13, 2010