The Facts About Organic Foods

Fruits and vegetables.
(Image credit: Fruits & vegetables photo via Shutterstock)

Are you confused about the benefits of buying organic? Well, you're not alone. Fortunately, a study published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine dispels some myths.

In this study, researchers compared organic and conventional foods (both produce and meat) to determine if there was a difference, in terms of health benefits.

The researchers found that while there are benefits to buying organic, those benefits may be limited to the cleanliness of the food. Researchers concluded that organic foods aren't any more nutritious than conventional foods, and they have about the same likelihood of carrying E. coli bacteria. This is a bit of a shock to some — it's even a little surprising to me.

So, is there any benefit of buying organic? According to the study, with produce, it all comes down to your desire to avoid pesticide residues. Conventional produce carried a 30 percent greater chance of being contaminated than organic produce.

With meat, it's all about exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Conventionally-raised chicken or pork carried a 33 percent higher chance of being contaminated with this type of bacteria than their organic counterparts, according to the study.

Personally, these reasons to buy organic are enough for me. Call me crazy, but I'd rather not ingest pesticides, or be infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Still, buying organic foods can be hard on the budget. So, here are some tips to buy organic without breaking the bank:

  • Shop at farmers' markets: The local farmers' market is probably the best place to get in-season organic produce. Just keep in mind that your local farmer may not have the budget to get USDA certified, so instead of being a stickler for the seal, ask about his or her farming practices.
  • Join a CSA: Have you heard about CSAs? The acronym stands for Community Supported Agriculture. When you join one of these programs, you pay a portion of a local farmer's expenses in exchange for weekly boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables from the farm. Some farmers will accept monthly payments, but the norm is to pay upfront. The cost for an entire season might be about $300 to $400.
  • Stock up in season: It's no secret that produce is cheaper when it's in season. So, stock up on things you can freeze, and use them throughout the year. Fresh herbs can be kept in the freezer all year long. Fruit can be frozen and used to make smoothies at any time. You can also buy a bushel of tomatoes, and make and jar the sauce.

Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!

Deborah Enos
Deborah Enos, CN, also known as "The One-Minute Wellness Coach," is The Health Coach for busy, working people. She pares her good-health messages down to simple and fast bullet points that can impact lives in 60 seconds or less. Deborah serves as a board member of the American Heart Association.  In addition to writing the Healthy Bites column for Live Science, Deborah is a regular on FOX Business News, NBC and ABC, and is a frequent contributor to The Costco Connection, Parade Magazine, Self Magazine, Good Housekeeping and USA Today. Deborah is also The One Minute Wellness Coach for The Doctors TV Show.