Organic food includes both produce and animal products. GMO produce is also included in non-organic selections. Organically grown fruits and vegetables are lower in pesticides and chemicals. Every year the EWG—Environmental Working Group makes a “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen” list. The organic label extends beyond produce; it also is used for animal products. Are there reasons for choosing organic animal products?
What are the two EWG lists all about?
Last year’s “Clean 15” list included onions. Why? Because onions don’t test high for contaminant residue. Every year the EWG selects fruits and vegetables across the country to test. They wash the produce and test it for residue from contaminants like herbicides or pesticides. Those that have few, if any contaminants after cleaning make the “Clean 15” list, and those with high amounts, are on the “Dirty Dozen” list.
Organic animal products come from animals whose treatment supports their health and welfare.
Meat and other animal products labeled organic come from animals that aren’t given antibiotics or growth hormones. They also consume food that’s grown organically and often free-range or grass-fed. Free-range poultry is different from cage-free. Free-range allows them access to the outdoors, where they can eat a traditional diet. Animals that are grass-fed get most of their nutrients from consuming grass but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re free from antibiotics, pesticides, or hormones. If an animal product is labeled certified organic, it’s required to be organic pasture-raised during the grazing season and at other times consume organic feed.
The benefits of organic food.
Are the amounts of chemicals and pesticides in produce and animal products enough to cause concern? The jury is still out and there are conflicting studies. One thing is certain, fruits and vegetables have lower nutrient content today than they did 50 years ago. The problem may come from the way commercial farming fertilizes. Commercial farmers add nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus each year, which doesn’t replenish trace minerals. Decomposed organic material does. Animal products that are certified organic have a heart-healthy fatty acid profile compared to those traditionally raised.
- Organically grown fruits and vegetables have more trace minerals but substantially lower level of nitrate. High levels of nitrates are associated with some types of cancer.
- To reduce pesticides in your food while saving money, go organic when selecting produce on the “Dirty Dozen” list and traditionally grown fruit and vegetables on the “Clean 15” list.
- Clean 15 list includes avocado, onion, sweet corn, pineapple, papaya, kiwi, cabbage, frozen Sweet Peas, asparagus, mushrooms, mango, cantaloupes, watermelon, and sweet potato.
- Grass-fed beef and dairy are higher in omega-3 fatty acids with more CLA—conjugated linoleic acid. CLA— which lowers the risk of heart disease and cancer. Eggs from free-range chickens are higher in vitamins E, A, and omega-3 fatty acids.
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