Nowadays everything we do, everything we eat is filtered through the health-craze lens. Is it healthy? Could it be healthier? Who certified it as being healthy? More often than not, walking between the produce aisles of supermarkets may now result in bouts of confusion, plenty of questions and numerous raised eyebrows.
For example, there are heaps and heaps of regular fruits and vegetables, just the way we’ve been used to seeing, and next to them, there are seemingly similar fruits and veggies that are fundamentally different. In fact, they seem to and are advertised as being real organic fruits. But what’s really different about these organic fruits? Are organic fruits better?
Some fruits are labeled as natural, while others are labeled as organic. Due to this ever-strengthening health trend, organic produce is becoming more and more attractive, but how many of us really know what’s behind these organic labels? What’s different about organic milk, for instance, and is it really healthier?
We’ll address all these puzzling questions below, in an article that’s meant to shed some light on the questions we’ve all asked ourselves at one point or another in our lives.
What’s the Difference Between Organic Foods and Traditionally-Grown Foods?
You’ll often see at least two different types of produce that are advertised differently, yet they seem so similar. On the one hand, you’ll see traditionally-grown produce, while on the other hand you’ll see organic produce. What is the difference between them, if any?
There’s a significant difference between organic foods and natural, traditionally-grown foods and it’s mainly in their production and processing methods.
If you buy fruits and vegetables that have organic labels on them, you can be rest assured they respect the USDA standards when it comes to the methods in which they’ve been produced and processed.
Organic farming products contain less pesticides and fewer additives, especially for environmental purposes. The organic food industry is heavily regulated, with the EPA setting standards on how much of these harmful additives are allowed, so you can be rest assured that regardless of what organic product you get, there is a cap on the amount of toxicity you get together with it.
Natural products, on the other hand, are grown by local farmers who typically also use less additives and pesticides than large industrial producers, but who don’t conform to the strict regulations set by the USDA or FDA. Natural foods do aim to check the same benefits off of their lists and they won’t contain artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
What’s more, getting the organic label promises you a few non-negotiable aspects that, if you’re looking for a healthy lifestyle, definitely shine a brighter light on every day dieting.
So what are organic fruits? In order to answer this question, it’s also important to see how organic food is grown:
- NO toxic and persistent pesticides;
- NO synthetic growth hormones;
- NO petroleum-based fertilizers;
- NO cloning.
This is how organic food is processed:
- NO artificial colors or flavors;
- NO artificial preservatives;
- NO irradiated products/ingredients;
- NO GMOs.
There are certain fruits and veggies that have a higher level of pesticide residue and they include:
The ones that tend to have lower pesticide levels are:
What Other Advantages Does the Organic Industry Hold?
Apart from serving healthier produce that’s less ridden with pesticide and toxic additives, the so-called ‘organic’ industry is also said to be a lot more beneficial to the environment.
Organic farming is considered to be the more sustainable alternative when it comes to food production. This lack or reduction in pesticides, as well as the wider variety of plants used comes in stark contrast with traditional farming, as it promotes higher biodiversity, better soil quality and reduced pollution from fertilizers and pesticides.
However scientists still debate over the seemingly definitive positive environmental impact that organic farming has. It seems that organic farming requires a lot more land than traditional farming does, since it yields fewer crops, which means there is less land left to deal with carbon emissions. In other words, there is less land left for carbon sequestration, which makes organic farming costlier for the environment, in terms of carbon emissions.
Of course, other data needs to be carefully considered before issuing set-in-stone conclusions. The fact is that Earth is facing an ever-growing population and the solutions that are currently available worldwide have yet to address every single environmental issue we are facing.
What Are Some Other Organic Farming Attributes?
Although we can find these organic labels everywhere we turn, there is still so much we don’t know about organic farming yet. If you’re buying organic produce, you can expect it was grown and processed on farms where some or all of the following practices and materials have been included:
- Mulch to control weeds;
- Plant rotation to preserve soil quality and to disrupt disease or pests cycles;
- Green manure left on fields, livestock manure or compost to improve soil quality;
- Insect traps or predatory insects to control pests;
- Cover crops that are designed to prevent soil erosion when certain land parcels are not in use and to plow into soil in order to improve its quality;
Although these practices may seem like they’re groundbreaking and new, many of them are age-old, having been used for ages by farmers that have never left the countryside and that have been passing on these tips from generation to generation.
Are Organic Fruits More Nutritious?
Are organic fruits really organic? And if so, does that mean they’re also more nutritious? Although there is still limited information on how much more nutritious organic food is compared to traditional food, it’s safe to say the potential benefits are as follows:
- Pesticide Residue – When compared to traditionally-grown produce, organic foods definitely have lower detectable pesticide residue levels. There still may be some pesticide residue left by airborne pesticide particles from traditional farms or from the pesticides approved for organic farming.
- Nutrients – Studies indicate there are small to moderate increases in some of the nutrients levels in organic produce. The most significant noticed increase is in flavonoids, which are high in antioxidants. Antioxidant fruits that manage to maintain their high levels of antioxidants as a result of organic farming are incredibly beneficial to human health.
- Toxic Metal – Plants tend to absorb cadmium, this metal that’s naturally found in soils. Organic grains seem to have considerably lower cadmium levels, as studies show.
Although evidence is not conclusive yet in this department, it seems that organic fruits can indeed bring increased health benefits. All in all, when trying to answer the question ‘Are organic fruits better?’, we can safely venture to say that indeed they are, as there are certain standards they need to fulfill during the processing and growth phases.
Why Are Organic Fruits More Expensive?
Regardless of the supermarket you’re buying from, you’ll notice that organic fruits are typically more expensive than conventional fruits. This happens for a series of reasons, among which:
- The labor input is generally higher than that for conventional farming;
- Farmers can’t produce enough of a single product in order to lower the overall cost;
- The organic food supply is relatively limited compared to the high demand of the market. Often people will pay what is needed to get something that is in short supply;
- Converting a regular farm into an organic one takes time and money. All the certifications that are needed for compliance reasons will often come with high costs for the farmers. The soil also needs time before it becomes clear of chemical residues. Once the farm has transitioned to organic, the farmer needs to pay a certain amount of money for this organic certification which will vary in price in accordance to the farm’s size and type. Apart from this, organic farmers will also need to pay an authorized certifying body to complete regular audits on the farm in order to ensure all organic standards are being met.
- Another reason why organic fruits are more expensive than conventional fruits is that organic farming methods are also less budget-friendly. Organic farmers will often need to resort to manual labor and alternative ways of managing fertility. Pest management is also a constant concern for any farmer out there, but when it comes to dealing with it and finding solutions, organic farmers are limited in their choices, only having a reduced number of approved chemical pesticides.
How Can You Save When Buying Organic Fruits?
You may want to do the best for yourself, for your family and for your planet, but at the same time you’d really want to protect your budget as much as you can. For the reasons mentioned above, organic fruits can really burn a hole in your wallet, if you’re planning on including them in your diet as a permanent lifestyle and if you’re not mindful of your spending.
This is why it’s best to develop a plan when it comes to regularly purchasing organic fruits and stick to it. If you want to eat organic on a budget, it’s good to know there are a few budget-friendly options on how to do this:
1. Buy Directly From Farmers
- Shop from the farmer’s market – Farmer’s markets tend to offer lower prices than supermarkets do, when it comes to organic produce. However different regions will have different economic needs and influences. So you may find one price in a farmer’s market up north in the country and a completely different one in a farmer’s market in the south. While it doesn’t pay to do a cross-country trip just to get better prices on several pounds of organic fruits, it definitely pays to do some research regarding the economical tendencies of the various regions in your vicinity.
- Pick Your Own – If you’re up for a quick adventure for yourself, with friends or with your family, you can always seek out the farms that allow you to pick your own organic fruits. There are plenty of them sprinkled across the country and their prices are usually lower than store price. All you need to do is pick the produce you want for an entire day. Farms will usually supply you with containers and anything else you may need during your picking activity.
- Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) – This option enables you to pay upfront for a share of a farmer’s crop. With a CSA, the price per pound will usually be lower than store pricing. However there is one downside to this – you don’t get to choose what fruits you are going to get in the end. This all depends on what the farmer decided to harvest that particular year. This is why it’s best to get informed of the season’s crops when you get a CSA.
2. Looking for Coupons and Sales
Bargain hunters often develop solid strategies in order to get the best possible prices for the items they buy and these strategies work just as well with organic fruits. One of these strategies refers to buying fruits that are already sale-priced and stacking a coupon on top of this already existing sale. It may take a bit of hunting and polishing your observational skills, but every cent saved is a cent earned and in the long-run this will definitely have a positive impact on your budget.
There are companies, like Organic Girl, that sell salad mixes in grocery stores in the USA – if you sign up for their newsletter, they usually offer a monthly coupon that can be printed and used in store, for example.
There are also couponing apps, like Ibotta, that will offer rebates on organic produce or organic products every now and again. Ibotta is a free app to download and you can see how Ibotta works here. You can sign up for Ibotta for free and get paid a bonus when you redeem your first rebate offer. You can use Ibotta Referral Code ZYQKFG to support this site.
Apart from this, there are already some websites out there that focus specifically on sifting through all the available organic produce. Organic Deals is one of them and they will also give links to online coupons.
3. Find Profitable Online Deals
Online stores can often offer a lot more deals than brick-and-mortar ones, since they don’t have the same number of expenditures they need to account for. There’s not a storefront to pay or just as many employees that need their monthly paychecks.
There is one downside to this and this refers to the way that shipping costs eat straight into your well-planned savings. This is why it’s best if you buy in bulk, rather than just buying a couple of pounds at a time.
4. Grow Your Own Organic Fruits
One final option is to go the extra mile and grow your own organic fruits in the comfort of your own home. Compared to organic fruits coming from farmers which may at some point use approved pesticides on their crops, your own organic fruits can be completely pesticide-free and healthy.
One myth that needs to be busted when it comes to growing your own organic fruits is that regarding the space you require for this. Contrary to popular belief, you can grow plenty of organic fruits in a yard that’s as small as 100 square feet.
If you don’t have an experienced green thumb, expecting less of your achievements. Simply follow the steps with just a few fruits and enjoy the process.
How to Clean Organic Produce
In this day and time, it may be difficult at times discerning what’s healthy to eat and what’s less healthy. When it comes to organic fruits, there are certain facts that definitely place them in the healthier category compared to conventionally-grown fruits. The entire growing and processing phases are meant to protect both the environment and those who end up consuming the fruits.
Although buying them regularly may cause a dent in your budget, there are some ways to go around it and save, while also keeping healthy. It’s safe to say that although still not optimized to meet the impressive demand, the organic industry will keep thriving in the future.
What’s your experience with organic fruits? Do you find them to be healthier than conventionally-grown fruits? Have you discovered any money saving techniques in purchasing them? Let other readers know by commenting below.