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Are Organic Foods Worth It?

This question will likely not ever end.

To some, food is like a religion, with people adamantly arguing on one side or the other.  The "low carb" people vs. the "low fat" people.  The "organic" vs "conventional."  It seems as if there’s no room for balance.  It’s good or evil.  Black or white.  There is no gray.  No middle ground. 

We look around to see if people are "on our side" — make sure others support us (social proof is often more important than scientific proof). Pick your sides, join forces with your "people" and stand behind what you believe.  

But here’s the question.  Why isn’t there a "gray" area? Does it have to be black and white?  Case in point.

Organic Foods.  Always "supreme" and worth the extra cost?

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This picture is one I captured on a recent trip to Canada.  Organic fries.  Really?

Do we really think that is the issue with fries?  That they’re not organic… it has NOTHING to do with the trans fat or loads of sodium.  Of course, it’s how the potatoes were grown. 

So maybe there is a gray. 

Just because it’s organic, certainly doesn’t make it better.  Organic junk is still junk!

Here’s our take on the topic as a whole.  While some will debate that studies show organic foods have MORE nutrients than conventionally grown foods, there’s certainly not a definite conclusion on this front. 

Sure, some studies DO support that.  Others do not.

But there is more to it than just the nutrients.  Organically grown foods use LESS pesticides.  While we don’t really know how this affects our bodies in years to come, it certainly makes sense that the less of those we can have in our bodies, the better.

Plenty of data does show that farmers who work on or near farms that use a lot of pesticides have higher rates of certain diseases.  The other side of this "argument" is that these are extreme cases, where most people eating the conventional fruit/veggies aren’t getting nearly the dose.

At the end of the day, though, the less we can have overall, the better.

Let’s consider some other points, though.  

Data suggests adults eat around 2 servings of vegetables TOTAL per day.

We’ve had people say to us “I can’t afford organic produce, so I can’t eat more than I’m already eating each day.” 

But our goal is to first get people to eat MORE produce, whether organic or not.

Conventionally grown produce is certainly better than NO produce.  Similarly, maybe outside of the organic vs. conventional debate — we prefer local over organic.

A conventionally grown apple picked the day you eat it is certainly going to have a lot more nutrients than an organic one that has been flown 3000+ miles to get to your grocery store weeks after it was picked.

Take Home Points.

  1. Eat MORE veggies and fruits.
  2. Eat MORE local veggies and fruits
  3. If you’re picking and choosing what foods to buy organic, use the list below.

The list of 12 fruits and veggies below are the list of the *most* contaminated … it’s published by the Environmental Working Group and is called it the “Dirty Dozen”

Very simply, if you’re going to spend more on organic foods, you should focus on THESE 12 that are most commonly contaminated (they are in order from highest to lowest, but they suggest buying organic for any 1 of these 12)

   1. Peaches (most contaminated)
   2. Apples
   3. Sweet bell peppers
   4. Celery
   5. Nectarine
   6. Strawberries
   7. Cherries
   8. Kale
   9. Lettuce
  10. Grapes (imported)
  11. Carrot
  12. Pear

*NOTE: The entire list of 47 foods can be found here:

There are a lot of factors in this organic vs. conventional debate – more to come as we continue to learn.

Post a comment — is organic worth the money in your mind?  Hopefully not if you’re deciding between conventional and organic fries. 

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12 Responses to Are Organic Foods Worth It?

  1. Ernie August 24, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    What a great article Chris! I find the “organic” people can sometimes behave like they are part of a cult. I like your “hierarchy of goodness”.

    Organic Fries? …in Canada? The shame.

    • Chris and Kara Mohr August 24, 2011 at 8:31 am #

      I swear, up north you guys do funny stuff!! :-) I’m sure we have Organic fries in the states, too … just haven’t seen it yet. :-)

  2. Лара August 24, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    I agree
    Very good to eat fruits and vegetables. Now, however, difficult to find environmentally friendly products. Probably need to grow yourself!

  3. Barb August 24, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    Yes, organic is very important to me; not only for my health, but for the health of the Earth. We do not have positive proof of what pesticides do in our bodies! Really? What has it done to the farmers – that’s proof enough! Why all of the sudden is the FDA recommending organic foods for nursing mothers? It’s simple – we ARE what we eat. So, the government has found it amusing to feed us pesticides and more recently GMO’s without our knowledge. I’m not sure about everyone else, but for one, I am tired of being used as a guinea pig for the government. I suggest everyone find a farmer they can trust and rebuild their health. I have been eating organic farm raised meats and drinking raw milk for about 6 years and guess what! no more bronchitis every year, no more pneumonia either. I have had 2 small colds in 6 years, now that’s what healthy eating can do for you! My son was born a life threatening chronic asthmatic and for many years survived only by use of a nebulizer – he hasn’t had to use that contraption since we started drinking pure milk.
    Sure, it is a little more expensive, but I’d rather my farmer have my money than the greedy US doctors!
    ~To Your Health

    • Chris and Kara Mohr August 24, 2011 at 8:32 am #

      You make many excellent points. Appreciate your support! Thanks

  4. Braden August 24, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    I really like this chris because I have been getting into convorsations about this subject which ends with the high fructose corn syrup convo as well and I have always had a view of both sides and have not really chose a “side” so it is good to know that I’m not the only one who agrees that there can be a “gray” area. Personally I believe that conventionally grown produce works just fine if it is local like you said. I have a hard time understanding how people can put more price on “organic” when to be honest at a local farmer’s market, do you truly know if it is organic?

  5. KEN EBACHER August 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    As always, great information! Thanks Chris and Kara! God bless you all always! Ken Ebacher

  6. Eric Mittenthal August 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    Chris & Kara–

    Great post! I’m always confused why it has to be such a black and white debate. I will say that even the dirty dozen produce don’t have to be so feared. A study recently looked at how much of those fruits you have to eat to even begin to be concerned about the pesticide levels and the amounts are astronomical. Here’s a link to an article the study author wrote for our Food Insight newsletter: http://bit.ly/n947PU.

    Eric Mittenthal
    Media Relations Director
    International Food Information Council Foundation

  7. Eric Mittenthal August 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    Chris & Kara–

    Great post! I’m always confused why it has to be such a black and white debate. I will say that even the dirty dozen produce don’t have to be so feared. A study recently looked at how much of those fruits you have to eat to even begin to be concerned about the pesticide levels and the amounts are astronomical. Here’s a link to an article the study author wrote for our Food Insight newsletter: http://bit.ly/n947PU.

    Eric Mittenthal
    Media Relations Director
    International Food Information Council Foundation

    • Chris and Kara Mohr August 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

      Thanks for posting, Eric! Lots of information out there to sort through — that’s for sure!

  8. Mark P. Kelly, Ph.D. August 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    Good stuff you guys. I have used pretty much the same rule of thumb- just try to get good things (fruits and vegetables) in your system. Your list of 12 foods matches up well with the “fleshy or high exposure” foods. For example, an apple is both fleshy and the skin is exposed to possible pesticides. I have not heard that “dirty or contaminated” is a reasoning for organic or not but rather the pesticide exposure. Thanks, Dr. Mark Kelly.

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