Going organic? Think before you buy.

By Ann Griswold • Published: June 19th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Thinking of going organic? Benefits abound, but shop smart before you buy or you might not get what you paid for.

If you’ve heard organic foods taste better, think again. Scientific taste tests have compared organic and conventional foods, but have yet to find any real differences.

On the other hand, if you’ve heard that organic fruits and vegetables contain more vitamins than conventional produce, you might be on to something. Researchers from Truman State University found that organic oranges contain thirty percent more vitamin C than conventional oranges. And University of California scientists say organic kiwi fruits have higher levels of antioxidants, vitamin C and polyphenols [polly-FEE-nahls], the health-promoting factors found in red wine. Antioxidant levels are also higher in organic corn, strawberries and marionberries, a type of blackberry.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of organic foods is that they’re produced in the absence of pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones. Pesticide levels in conventional foods are well within the safe limits defined by the U-S Environmental Protection Agency. But many consumers worry that a lifetime of consuming “safe” levels could eventually build up in the body and contribute to diseases like cancer.

Have you researched organic food facts and fiction and decided you’re ready to make the switch? Health experts say some products, such as coffee, meat, dairy and produce with thin skins, are more pesticide-prone… so organic varieties of these items might be a much better use of your money.