Are Organic Foods More Nutritious & More Expensive? What The USDA & Rutgers Say


Are organic foods more nutritious & more expensive? What the USDA & Rutgers say about farmers market & chemical additives.

Organic fruit and organic vegetables are grown under the watchful eye of the USDA organic program. But what makes organic fruit different, and are organic vegetables safer or healthier to eat?

What makes organic fruits and vegetables different is the way they’re grown. For example, only fertilizers like compost or manure can be used: chemical fertilizers are not allowed, nor are most synthetic herbicides, pesticides and fungicides.

Researchers at Rutgers University set out to disprove the claim that “Organic Is Better”.  They purchased selections of products at supermarkets and health food stores and analyzed their mineral content.  Organic foods were those grown without the use of chemical pesticides or artificial fertilizers.  Non-organic foods, referred to here as “commercial,” were grown with a variety of chemicals that enhance growth or destroy pests, many of which are known or suspected carcinogens (cancer-causing) and which cause greater erosion to the environment and wildlife. The idea that organic crops are nutritionally superior has been accepted largely on faith. There has been very little hard evidence to support this supposition. Rutgers researchers expected the organic produce to be maybe slightly higher in comparison, but the results were astounding! The amount of iron in the organic spinach was 97% more than the commercial spinach, and the manganese was 99% greater in the organic. Many essential trace elements were completely absent in the commercial produce whereas they were abundant, comparatively, in their organically grown counterparts.

One thing is certain: the environmental impacts of organic farming are vastly superior to those of factory farming, with its reliance on synthetic pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers and other practices. Since how you shop is at least as important as how you vote, keep in mind how your produce shopping affects the environment.

There are a lot of good reasons to choose locally-grown, organic produce when possible. However, organic food is admittedly more expensive. If you want to maximize the good you do to your body while minimizing the cost, you could choose to purchase only organic produce for the fruits and vegetables listed on the top 12 list (below). It is estimated that if a consumer avoids eating non-organically grown produce in the top 12 (“Dirty Dozen”) on this list, pesticide exposure can be reduced by up to 80%.  This list was compiled by the Environmental Working Group from approximately 96,000 studies by the USDA and FDA of the 49 fruits and vegetables listed. There are many fruits and vegetables that are not on this list — these were chosen because they are most commonly eaten.  Copy this list and have it with you when you shop.

Dirty Dozen

Buy these organic

1 Apples

2 Celery

3 Strawberries

4 Peaches

5 Spinach

6 Nectarines– imported

7 Grapes – imported

8 Sweet bell peppers

9 Potatoes

10 Blueberries – domestic

11 Lettuce

12 Kale/collard greens


Clean 15

Lowest in Pesticide

1 Onions

2 Sweet Corn

3 Pineapples

4 Avocado

5 Asparagus

6 Sweet peas

7 Mangoes

8 Eggplant

9 Cantaloupe – domestic

10 Kiwi

11 Cabbage

12 Watermelon

13 Sweet potatoes

14 Grapefruit
The scores given are simply a ranking of the different items, from the most problematic in terms of pesticides, to least likely to have pesticide residue.  The fruits and vegetables were washed or peeled as most people use the produce – for example, apples were washed, bananas and oranges peeled.

Eating 3 to 5 cups a day of fruits and vegetables has long been recommended to reduce the risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, and development of type 2 diabetes. The health benefits are well documented, and so you may not need to be sold on why you should eat more produce. But the reality is, getting a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet can sometimes be expensive.  There are ways to add more produce into your diet without breaking the bank:

Watch the Sales – Most grocery stores feature weekly sale items. Study the sale flyers, and only buy what is on sale that week. Shopping this way automatically gives you variety in your fruits and veggies, as what’s on sale tends to change each week.

Sometimes stores offer special “bulk prices” with savings for large quantities. Wholesale “shopper’s club” stores also offer bulk produce at inexpensive prices. Split your purchases with a friend, and get twice the variety for half the price.

Keep an eye on seasonal produce. For example, apples and pears are ripe and on sale in the fall, and the tiny tangerines called Clementine’s tend to be cheaper during the Christmas season.

Coop/CSA – If you are lucky enough to live near a farmer’s market, produce is very often fresher than in stores and more reasonably priced. Shopping at the end of market day can yield some added savings, because some vendors would rather sell their wares at a discounted price than take them back home again.

Some farms offer a program called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). People can become “members” of a local farm by paying a yearly fee up front and then receive boxes of produce every week during the growing season.

Opt for Frozen Options – Frozen produce can sometimes be more nutritious than fresh, especially if fresh fruits and vegetables have been shipped a long way and left to sit on a grocery store shelf once they finally arrive at the store. Frozen options can also go easier on your wallet.

Adding frozen vegetables to soups, stews, casseroles and pasta dishes is a good way to increase your intake. Vegetables such as frozen spinach can be added to many recipes to give you more heart health benefits. Onions and cabbage are usually reasonably priced. If you like them, add them to everything.

Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet doesn’t have to break the bank, and you will feel better and enjoy better health.  As always, do the best you can to improve your diet and eating habits.  To make sure you are getting the optimum amounts of nutrients in your daily diet, take a premium quality food supplement to make up for the areas you are lacking.  The Universal Key highly recommends adding the Shaklee brand of nutrients to your daily diet.  It makes complete sense that when you choose the best quality fruits and vegetables, that the same principals apply to choosing the best quality food supplements.  Whole food supplements that offer all the nutrients contained in the fruits and vegetables in the right proportions and balances that nature intended, without the unnecessary additives and chemicals, will give you the best possible outcome to be your healthiest self!


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