Healthy Living Tip#1 Is Non-Organic Food Safe to Eat?
Choosing between Organic and Non organic food does really matter for a healthy living. We are what we eat. Of late, there has been a lot of discussions about organic and non-organic foods, their cost and associated health risks. This post is dedicated to people who are confused in choosing between organic and non-organic food.
What is Non-Organic Food?
Most of us know what a non-organic food is. Any food which is produced by conventional method where pesticides are used to kill various pests that affects the growth of crops. This method is most widely used all around the world as it is comparatively cheaper to maintain and easy to save the crops from pests. But the major drawback of this conventional method is the pesticide residues present in the food products as well as the environmental pollution.
Who is EPA and what is their Job?
EPA stands for “Environmental Protection Agency” which is an agency of the federal government of the United States which sets the maximum pesticide residue levels that can safely remain on any food without posing any health risks.
What’s your Favorite Healthy Food?
What’s your favorite healthy fruit? Probably Apple or Strawberry? And what about favorite healthy Green? May be Spinach or Lettuce?
Let us first take a look at the pesticide residues present in these favorite fruits and greens (Source: 2015 Pesticide Data Program from USDA) before we go deep into organic and non-organic foods.
As per the test conducted by US Department of Agriculture in 2015;
Apple has 16 pesticide residues.
Strawberry has 38 pesticide residues.
Spinach has 23 pesticide residues.
Lettuce has 14 pesticide residues.
However, all of these pesticide residues are less than the maximum tolerance levels set by EPA.
What are the Non-Organic food items with most number of Pesticide Residues?
Below figure shows foods with most number of pesticide residues present per the 2015 PDP Annual Summary. However, all of these pesticide residues are less than the maximum tolerance levels set by EPA.
What are the Different types of Pesticides?
Insecticide – It is a chemical which kills insects. Some to name are Acetamiprid, Chlorantraniliprole, Hexythiazox & Phosmet.
Fungicide – It is a chemical which kills fungus. Some to name are Boscalid, Carbendazim, Diphenylamine & Fludioxonil
Herbicide – It is a chemical which kills unwanted vegetation. Some to name are Prometryn, DCPA, Sethoxydim & Trifluralin
Acaricide – It is a chemical which kills ticks and mites. Some to name are Acequinocyl, Bifenazate, Etoxazole, Spirodiclofen
Plant Growth Regulator – These are the external hormones which regulates the plant growth. Some to name are Ethoxyquin, Forchlorfenuron, Paclobutrazol & Tecnazene
What are the health risks of Pesticide residues in Non-Organic food?
Thanks to the detailed research done by “Pesticide Action Network North America”. According to PANNA, following diseases indicate a strong linkage to pesticide exposure (based on studies done in year 2004 or earlier).
- Childhood Cancers,
- Breast Cancer,
- Other Cancers,
- Parkinson’s Disease,
- Low Birth Weight,
- Birth Defects,
- Declining Sperm Counts.
Are there any food Items exceeding the pesticide residue tolerance set by EPA?
Yes. According to 2015 PDP summary, Pesticides exceeding the tolerance were detected in 54 samples including 1 sample of fresh cherries, 4 samples of cucumbers, 3 grape samples, 3 samples of green beans, 1 peach sample, 1 pear sample, 8 samples of spinach, 25 samples of strawberries, 2 tomato samples, and 6 samples of watermelon. Of those 54 samples, 18 were reported as imported produce.
Look at figure below for list of food with exceeding pesticide residue levels. However, US Food and Drug Administration deemed these to be “not of regulatory significance” as the number of findings is less than 0.01 ppm (parts per million).
Not only this, EPA does not have tolerance levels defined for some of the pesticides.
What is an Organic Food?
In contrast to the Non-Organic produce, Organic produce are grown without the use of pesticides or any synthetic fertilizers. Animals which produce eggs, poultry, dairy products and meat are fed with natural foods and not given any antibiotics or growth hormones.
There are many methods in which pests are eliminated in organic farming. Some of the widely used methods are listed below,
- Using living organisms like ladybugs, birds, insects and some other predatory bugs,
- Crop rotation, a technique in which different crops or grown in the same land every year so that the pests don’t get used to the type of crop.
- Organic pesticides made from cow dung, livestock urine and many other natural pesticides
Is organic food costly?
Yes. Due to more tedious maintenance techniques and certification process, the organic produce is generally more expensive than non-organic products. I have compared the prices of 15 most purchased products in the table below for your information.
But remember that the medical is even more expensive and any one of the listed disease could easily vanish your entire life’s savings.
What is the Conclusion?
There is no known differences between the amount of nutrients present in organic and non-organic food products. Both tend to provide same amount of nutrients.
The non-organic food is pretty cheap compared to organic food in general. Also EPA is confident that the pesticide residues present in the non-organic food items does not pose any health risks. So if you are budget constraint and believe in EPA, you can definitely enjoy the non-organic food.
The organic food is environmental friendly, free from chemicals and pesticides and supports healthy living. But they are more expensive. However, medical expenses are even more costly these days. So if you are not worried about the cost aspect and always prefer chemical free product, organic food is the best fit for you.
I hope this post created some awareness about non-organic and organic products and other aspects related to these foods. If you have enjoyed reading my post, please like it and share it to your friends. As usual, keep visiting my page for new stuffs.