Is Organic Food Really Better? The Honest Answer

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I'm a Certified Health Coach, longtime blogger, and host of Elizabeth Eats on YouTube. In addition to writing recipes (I love to eat!), I'm a strong believer that life is too short to settle for anything less than living your best life.


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is organic better
The question of whether or not organic food is really actually better for you than conventional counterparts is for sure in the top 10 questions I’m asked most often.

I’ve read a variety of studies about this and consulted with many nutrition experts. The consensus? Unfortunately, there’s still some debate as to whether or not organic produce has more nutrients that conventional produce. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter.

It’s not what you are getting with organic food. It’s what you aren’t getting in your organic food.

Namely, pesticides, insecticides, added growth hormones and un-needed (and dangerous) antibiotics.

Fruits & Veggies

When it comes to fruits and veggies, I recommend buying organic whenever you can. However, if that’s not always an option don’t fret one bit–fresh fruits and veggies should still be your number one choice over canned or packaged foods. Always wash your produce thoroughly, and peel any non-organic produce. Peeling helps, but remember that pesticides actually grow into the plant as well through the roots so simply peeling the produce might not remove all of the toxins.

I always recommend that my clients get familiar with the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15”. These two lists call out the most contaminated and cleanest produce available, even after it’s been washed.

If prioritizing a budget, always buy the items listed under the Dirty Dozen organic, and go conventional with the others.

The Dirty Dozen

Buy these organic whenever possible.

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Nectarines – imported
  • Grapes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Blueberries – domestic
  • Potatoes

Plus (also buy these organic)

  • Green beans
  • Kale and all other greens

The Clean 15

Lowest in pesticide residue.

  • Onions
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe – domestic
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Watermelon
  • Mushrooms

You can find more information about the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 here.

Is Organic Food Really Better_

Meat & Dairy

If choosing animal products, my personal rule of thumb is to only go organic–animal products have the double whammy of contamination from pesticides/insecticides on the animals’ feed (if there are pesticides in the food the animal eats, the pesticides stay in the animal, and eventually get into you if you consume products from that animal) and potential added antibiotics and growth hormones. Antibiotics that are fed to animals also end up in your body and are a nightmare for your healthy gut bacteria, while growth hormones can make your fat cells grow (they are growth hormones, after all.) Having an organic-only rule then it comes to animal products is a personal choice, but I highly recommend it. It also prevents you from over-consuming unhealthy foods that you shouldn’t be having in the first place.

And on a final note, I personally think that the reason some testing shows organic produce could have more nutrients than conventional is because the nutrient density of any plant depends on so many factors, like soil, season and farming methods (organic or not.) Organic blueberries grown in California in May might have slightly different nutrients content than organic blueberries grown in Oregon in June. Always remember, the more vibrant, colorful and flavorful produce will have the most amount of nutrients. If a tomato is pale red and has no flavor, it’s probably low in nutrients, too. This is one of the main reasons it’s so important to shop for seasonal produce. Again, I still think that organic is better–even the healthiest produce can be ruined with toxic pesticide and insecticide residue.

Happy Clean Shopping!

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  1. The reality is the hood cleaning company is suppose to report this, then the restaurant owner gets a letter saying they have so many days to have the problem fixed or sometimes an inspector just shows up and sees the non compliance issue and they report it.

  2. Larry says:

    You’re living in the inner city, with little or no choice of what type of food you get in the supermarket, because you are on Welfare & existing on Food Stamps & you hear someone discussing:

    Is Organic Food Really Better?

    And you fall around laughing!

    What f–king planet are these people on?

    Do they really understand the condition millions of Americans are existing in?

    Is their view of America got from their TV?

    Have they EVER wondered how the poor of America exist?

    They might as well live on Mars.

  3. Faith Mitchell says:

    Any ideas why potatoes are on the dirty dozen but sweet potatoes are on the clean 15?

  4. Carolyn Fowler Myres says:

    I keep this downloaded to my phone so I always have it with me when I shop. The other thing I might add is that even though corn is listed in the clean group, I always buy organic to avoid GMO corn since most corn grown in the USA is GMO. It puzzles me how corn even made it onto the clean 15.

  5. Andrea Hoehn Hood says:

    Perfectly stated Elizabeth! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  6. Prana says:

    Great article! Just to add another point in favour of only eating organic meat and dairy products: Choosing organic meat and dairy is the only way you can be sure you are not eating GMOs, as most non-organic meat and dairy are fed on Monsanto’s Genetically modified grains. This also applies to Europe. Even though most of Europe has banned GMOs, the loop hole is that the animals can be fed grain from GM crops. The choice is a no-brainer for me!

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