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Ask A Dietitian: Is Organic Better?

by Jessica May MS, RD/LD

Q: Is organic really better for you?

A: Organic products appear to be on the rise and many companies are claiming that buying organic is more healthful. Organic products definitely carry a higher price tag and this is because most of the companies adhere to stricter practices than conventional products.

To be certified as "USDA organic" the product must be at least 95 percent organic and a government approved official must verify this through inspection. Organic crops must be free of fertilizers and pesticides and organic farm animals must be free of antibiotics and growth hormones. Because of this, most people assume that organically grown food must be safer. However, there are multiple factors to look at.

Although organic foods typically have a third fewer pesticides than conventionally grown foods, conventional foods still fall well below the limits of pesticides set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Experts are unsure if the difference in pesticide residuals are enough to make a difference at this time. And since organic foods are not using synthetic pesticides they must contend with more natural toxins and weeds then conventional crops and natural toxins can be just as dangerous as synthetic man-made toxins. Some claim that since organic farms are using natural fertilizer such as manure that these crops may contain high amounts of bacterial contamination. However that is also up for debate.

The best way to insure your vegetation is safe for consumption is to wash everything under water. So, is organic really better for you? It's up for debate. While organic crops are not contributing to further pollution and contaminants they might not be any better for you healthwise than the leading conventional product. The decision is purely up to you. It's important to look at your values and make the decision that makes the most sense for your lifestyle and beliefs.

For nutritional counseling, Norman Regional Health System offers the guidance of registered dietitians. Those interested can schedule an appointment for an assessment with a referral from their family physician.

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Norman Regional Health System

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