Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | March 16, 2012

Organically Produced

Organically Produced

by Lindsay Kovacic, RD, LDN, Duke Raleigh Hospital

Organic food, as defined by the National Organic Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic foods are produced without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, do not contain genetically modified organisms and are not processed using chemical food additives and irradiation. When compared to conventional foods, organic foods are not necessarily healthier, since the nutritional value is not altered, nor is the taste of the food.

The benefit of organic comes from the likely reduction of toxins in our body as well as in our Earth’s soil.

Buying organic foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, can be a wise choice in some cases, but in others you could just be wasting your money.

Here’s my opinion on what fruits, vegetables and other food groups are best if bought organic.

When purchasing fruits and vegetables, keep in mind, the pesticides and chemicals can be hiding in crevices, penetrating inside the skins or lurking on the leaves. My top organic purchases are:

  • Apples and stone fruits (peaches, nectarines)
  • Grapes
  • Berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries)
  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, lettuces)
  • Celery
  • Most dairy products, especially  milk

If you opt for packaged foods over fresh, you should know that packaged foods can be designated “organic” if at least 70 percent of the ingredients are organic. For instance, an organic vegetable soup could be made with organic carrots but then contain other additives.

My advice: Become familiar with food labeling. Look out for an ingredient you can’t pronounce. That always turns me away.

In short, whether you purchase organic foods or not, you can still make healthy food choices that promote energy, longevity and a reduction in the risk of life-threatening diseases/conditions.

Want to know more?
The USDA’s website is a great source of information on organic foods and labeling laws.

Our Wellness Center has registered dieticians available for nutrition counseling.

Our Diabetes Center also offers nutrition counseling and meal planning.

What are your thoughts on organic vs. non-organic?

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