Is organic food worth the extra money?
This is a question I get asked a lot! My answer is a great big YES!!
It makes a massive difference, nutritionally, to our health and the environment.
My first degree is in Agricultural Chemistry and I more recently studied Permaculture and I have a Permaculture Design Certificate to prove it!
So I know a LOT about soil and pesticides!
The soil is a living organism teeming with all sorts of microbes going about their business, enriching the soil, decomposing waste and making minerals and trace elements available to any plants who happen to be growing there. If the plants grow in a living soil, which is exactly what ORGANIC soil is, then all the trace minerals exist in the soil so the plants can benefit from them and so can you when you eat the plants!
Conventionally grown crops are grown on dead soil, with only the application of the 3 main macronutrients, N, P and K essential for the plants to grow. These plants will grow but they will be lacking in most of the trace elements and will have been sprayed with toxic pesticides, which I may add DO NOT WASH OFF WITH WATER!
If that were the case then as soon as the crops were sprayed and watered or it rains, the pesticides would be washed off, which I can assure you is not the case! That would literally be money washed right down the drain!
There have been many studies done over the years comparing the nutritional quality of organic versus conventional produce, most recently in October 2015, a massive study by Newcastle University, link is here
showing that organic can be up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants essential for good health and more than 50% lower in toxic heavy metals and obviously much lower in pesticide and chemical residues.
That's worth paying extra for, in my opinion!
Bearing in mind that kids are up to 4 times more susceptible to pesticide residues and environmental toxins and if your health is compromised you seriously need to reduce the amount of toxins you ingest, to give your body a chance to heal itself.
Now I'm not suggesting that you buy everything organic, that's outwith the budget for a lot of people and its sometimes not that easy to source organic food.
The Soil Association are certifiers of over 70% of the organic food sold in the UK
Here is their link to Eating Organic on a budget
Here is an up to date list of fruits and vegetables, from The Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) that tend to have the highest levels of pesticide residue (even after being washed and peeled). Click here for a pdf version
Dirty Dozen (this is where you want to spend the extra money on organic produce whenever possible)
these have the least amount of pesticide contamination - so are not as high a priority to buy organic.
If you can't buy organic then at least buy local. Always check where your fruit and veg comes from and buy UK produced if possible.
Of course if you sign up to an organic veg box scheme then everything will be organic and mostly locally produced.
If your budget doesn't stretch to organic or you have difficulty finding organic fruit and vegetables then you can use this simple home-made spray before you wash your fruit and veg.
HOME MADE VEGGIE WASH
To use just spray onto your fruit or veg, leave for 5 minutes, then rinse as usual.
Wholefoods also sell a concentrated product called Veggi Wash which is easy to use, convenient and good value. You just dilute a capful in a bowl of water and soak your produce for 5 minutes, then rinse it.
For those of you who live in or around Glasgow, the lovely folks at Locavore have kindly offered 25% off your first organic veg box, just quote Nourished by Nature! Also if you spend £30 in the shop, you get 10% discount. This is a brilliant offer so please take advantage of it! A veg box delivery starts from £10 per week for a medium bag.. Click here for more details
It's really quite exciting checking out the box every week, to see what seasonal goodies you have! I have just re instated my veg box, I grow my own over the summer, so am usually knee deep in greens, salads and herbs!
Locavore also have a veg bag Facebook group, on which people post recipes or take photos of odd looking veggies asking what they are and what to do with them!
There have been some funny ones that I have replied to. Last spring someone was holding up a bunch of wild garlic and asking if it would be good in a green juice!! I think not!
But it is a seriously great idea to eat seasonal food, grown locally, when its at its most nutritious and hasn't travelled far to get to your plate. The other great thing with a veg bag delivery is the lack of plastic packaging, it arrives in a reusable box so again has benefits for the environment.
Apart from fruit and veggies, the Soil Association suggest that you buy any animal products organic Its always from higher welfare animals, fed on their natural diet, without antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones and the resulting meat, eggs and dairy have way higher nutritional value.
Similarly wheat is among the heaviest sprayed of all the cereal crops and considering that many of us eat wheat at every meal, in the form of bread, cereals, pasta, pizza, cakes and cookies then its worth seeking out organic options. I always use organic flour for home baking and buy organic wholewheat pasta.
The use of glyphosate on British cereal crops has increased by 400% in the last 20 years, and a recent study on European city dwellers found that 7 out of 10 people had traces of glyphosate in their urine Now that's a worrying trend. Glyphosate is now the most heavily used weedkiller in history! Chemicals of any kind have no place in our bodies and can wreak havoc with many body systems.
Lidl sell organic wholemeal pasta & organic rye bread and most supermarkets have a good range of organic products
Again Locavore stock organic eggs, from their own free ranging ducks and chickens, organic milk, butter, cheese, meat, flour and grains.
If you are a meat eater then it makes sense to eat better quality but less often. This is the International year of The Pulse so we should all be eating more lentils and beans for our health and cutting down on animal products
I tend to buy potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, apples, cucumber, celery and courgettes organic.
I also buy organic whole milk for Alastair, who likes it in his tea. I buy organic Soya Milk for baking and the odd cappuchino.
Organic isn't always more expensive. For example Oatly Organic Oat milk is the same price as non organic!! Its a no brainer in that case, always go for organic if you have the choice, especially if its the same price! You will end up with a product with less environmental impact, less toxic residues and more nutritional value!
.....your health in your hands.....
🍃 Health educator🍃