When Does it Pay to Go Organic?
The organic food market is a booming industry. In 2006 alone, Americans spent $16.7 billion on organic foods, typically vegetables and fruit. An Organic Trade Association survey has discovered that organic food sales are projected to surpass $25 billion by the end of this year. According to the National Restaurant Association's 2007 Restaurant Industry Forecast, chefs ranked organic food as third on a list of the top 20 items for 2007. Today more and more chefs are including organic foods on the menu, as are individuals who are cooking at home.
Organic foods are those that are grown with little to no conventional pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, and are not boosted with antibiotics, growth hormones, genetic engineering, or irradiation, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
Little is really known about what pesticides and generic engineering of produce and other foods may do to the human body. There is some evidence that pesticide effects on humans include damage to the nervous system, reproductive system and other organs, developmental and behavioral abnormalities, disruption of hormone function as well as immune dysfunction. Pesticides consumed by pregnant women can be passed on to the fetus, and breast-fed babies can also consume pesticides passed on from their mothers. Smaller children are more likely to be affected by pesticide residue. The alternative is to buy organic foods.
As anyone who has purchased organic foods can attest, they tend to cost more than conventionally grown foods. So it pays to understand what foods offer the greatest risk for pesticide residue than other foods. You can make the determination as to whether the extra cost is warranted.
In general, produce where the outer skin isn't eaten can be purchased as non-organic. Those like pineapples, onions, citrus fruits, and bananas, for example, will be cleaned and peeled before eaten. However, some produce can harbor higher levels of toxic pesticides. Here are items that you may want to select in organic forms:
* Green beans
* Sweet bell peppers
It's important to keep in mind that not all organic food is up to the same levels as others. Imported produce -- even those labeled organic -- might not be grown to the same standards as United States produce. Grapes, cucumbers, lettuce and more may have higher levels of residues than home-grown produce.