I often tell myself that it’s okay to eat something that’s certified organic, but would otherwise be considered unhealthy if it didn’t have the green USDA circle on its packaging. From personal experience, I have heard a lot of peers and friends say, “but it’s organic”, as an excuse to eat chips, chocolate-covered pretzels, or ice cream. The term “organic” translates to the term “healthy” anyway, right?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.” Because these organic products are free of these “synthetic ingredients” from fertilizers and “most conventional pesticides”, companies increase prices due to more expensive farming techniques. We as consumers have to bear those costs when we purchase organic-labeled products.
As college students, we live on a budget. The difference between conventional and organic products may be vast in price, but not so much with regards to nutritional value. According to Stephanie Watson, an executive editor at Harvard Women’s Health Watch, researchers at Stanford University have claimed that aside from the marginally higher levels of phosphorus in organic products and omega-3 fatty acid content in organic chicken and milk, the nutritional benefit is too small to make a difference.
If you are more concerned with the contamination from pesticides and fertilizers rather than the nutritional facts but don’t want to spend more for organic products, then there are a few alternatives. The Environmental Working Group publishes the “Dirty Dozen” – the 12 products with the highest contamination levels – and the “Clean 15” – the 15 products with the lowest contamination products. Educating yourself with these articles may help you budget your money every time you take a trip to the grocery.Bottom line: if you can afford to buy all organic products, then no one is stopping you. If you are buying organically to avoid pesticides, it may be worth spending the extra money depending on the product — remember the Dirty Dozen mentioned above? But if you’re buying organic products for health reasons, it may not be worth the extra cash you spend. “Organic” does not necessarily translate to “healthy.”