Is “organic” worth the expense?

a basket of fresh organic vegetables

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” – Ann Wigmore.

We are all victims of this marketing buzzword, especially with the media freaking out about various health issues and linking them to our choice of food. These days you can even find energy bars and icecreams screaming “organic”!

Is organic food worth its monumental cost?

And how much can we trust the labels and the claims of manufacturers and marketers?

Let’s look at some of the common assumptions we have about organic food:

  • Organic food is more nutritious

When a food product or fresh produce is labeled ‘organic’, it means that it’s free of pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified ingredients and other artificial chemicals. It does not necessarily mean that it has more vitamins and minerals.

  • Organic food is healthier

If you are planning to lose weight and get fit, you don’t have to blow your food budget and buy everything organic. Compared with their conventional counterparts, organic food may not be lower in calories or better in nutrition.

  • Organic food tastes better

There is little research to support this theory. The fact that something is organic doesn’t guarantee that it would taste better than the non-organic ones. Any difference in taste may be due to varied factors like the freshness or the mode of storage or even our perception that pricey food tastes better.

  • ‘Organic’ and ‘natural’ are the same.

Both are free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives but they are definitely not the same. Foods labeled ‘natural’ are not regulated by the FDA and may not be free of fertilizers, pesticides or genetically modified ingredients unless otherwise specified on the package.

  • If the label says “organic”, it’s 100 percent organic.

All organic products are not created equal. For example, a product is 100% organic only if the package says so. “Organic” means it contains at least 95% organically produced ingredients. “Made with organic ingredients” means it contains at least 70%.

  • A complete changeover to organic food is the best way to detoxify or avoid toxicity.

Yes, we buy organic because it is chemical-free and less toxic to the body and good for the environment as well. But we need not replace every food item with the organic ones. Many low-priced non-organic foods aren’t much different from their organic counterparts. Also, we can use our best judgement in deciding which organics to buy, based on our family’s consumption pattern. To get maximum benefit, buy organic versions of those foods that form the largest part of your diet.

a shopper at the organic vegetables section at a groceries store

The latest list recommended by the Environmental Working Group that analyzes the pesticide residue on commercially sold produce can help you decide where your organic food dollars are best spent:

Buy OrganicBuy regular
CelerySweet corn
NectarinesSweet peas
Sweet bell peppersEggplant
Sweet potatoes

(Source: Health….The Reader’s Digest Version)

Of course, if you want to have it all – superior taste, freshness, health, and nutrition – growing your own garden will be the best option.

What are your views on organic foods? I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment before leaving.


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