A factual look at the differences.
This post is on a controversial topic; organic vs. non-organic. I feel like there are truths that go along with the thoughts on Organic and Non-Organic (aka conventional food) and then there are the clouded truths that the market and diet culture use to confuse and control where people spend their money. Being more around agriculture after marrying into a farm family I think I have decided that neither is wrong but if everyone farmed organically it would be almost impossible to support the food needs in the world. This is a huge topic in both the nutrition world and farming.
I am hoping to stay as much to the facts as possible and give you a fair look at the differences between them. We are also going to take some time and look at a price comparison of 5 different foods that fit into the organic and non-organic food groups.
First thing let’s define both:
Organic Food/Farming – produced/grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.
Non-Organic Food – Food that is grown without the use of organic methods. Usually referred to as conventional farming. Using pesticides, herbicides and GMO’s to help grow a better crop, e.g. better yield, better quality.
Theory vs. Facts
Theory: Organic food is better for you.
Facts: While organic food isn’t grown with pesticides and herbicides studies have shown it has no greater nutritional value because of being grown organically. Conventional food (non-organic) holds the same nutritional value.
Theory: Conventional (non-organic) food is unsafe and dangerous to consume.
Facts: The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulates the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals used on conventional farms to be safe.
Theory: Conventional farmers douse their crops with chemicals to rid the crop of weeds, bugs and other offensive things.
Facts: Let’s use Roundup as an example, there are other synthetic chemicals used on crops but for the sake of learning we will use 1 kind. It varies a little, but most Roundup applications are 22 fluid ounces per acre…that’s like a water bottle full of Roundup spread across an acre. An acre is a little smaller than a football field. Also, think about this. Have you ever bought chemicals to apply to multiple acres? The cost adds up and farmers have to be smart with their resources. What a waste it would be of money and resources to apply more than the safe and recommended amount.
Theory: Organic food is not grown with pesticides.
Facts: Certified organic food producers can use pesticides as long as they are naturally derived and not derived from synthetic substances.
Hopefully the above Theories/Facts helped educate and shed some light on organic and non organic food and farming. I hope it also will help you make more educated food choices at the grocery store. Now let’s do a price comparison! Another facet of the grocery store decision!
Organic vs Non-Organic Food Cost
Below is a table I put together to show the cost comparison for organic food vs. non-organic (conventional) food cost. I used Walmart for prices and these obviously will fluctuate but I found it interesting to see the difference. At the end I added it all up so you can see how much of a difference it can make on the bottom line.
|Food||Organic Cost||Conventional Cost|
|Lettuce – Romaine 3pk||$3.96||$3.74|
|Bananas – per lb||$0.73||$0.58|
|Peanut Butter – Smuckers 26oz||$4.94||$3.64|
|Eggs – 1 Dozen||$4.43||$3.88|
|Milk – Gallon Whole||$6.98||$3.91|
In the end I feel like it comes down to preference. If you would rather eat organic; more power to you. Conventional food is just as good for you. You don’t have to feel like you are making the wrong choice by not buying organic food and vice versa. Just be careful not to get into the clever marketing of organic food. Know the facts.
Do you have thoughts on the topic? Share them below I’d love to hear.
Mariah Nienhuis, NDTR
*Note: This post is intended for the general healthy population. It is not personalized nutrition advice and if you are in need of this please visit your doctor/health care professional for specific advice. *
A couple of interesting articles for further reading about organic food labels and regulations.
Here are some posts on farming you might find useful:
In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good. Ecclesiastes 11:6