Organic vs. Conventional Produce: What families need to know


Imagine you are in the grocery store and when you arrive at the produce section you see that the best apple of all, the honey crisp, is back and you cannot wait to taste the sweetness.

The dilemma: Organic vs. Conventional

You notice the organic honey crisp are selling for $3.99 a pound and the conventional honey crisp are selling for $0.99 a pound. You have heard that apples are a fruit that is high in pesticides, but $3.99 a pound may be a little steep for you pocket book. What to do?

This is a dilemma many parents face in the grocery store. Before going further, I want to clarify, if you feel strongly about purchasing organic produce for your family that is great and if you typically purchase conventional produce that is also great. Bottom line is fresh produce should be a regular part of anyone’s diet, no matter if it is organic or conventional. My goal is that all consumers be educated on both organic and conventional produce and make the decision that is best for their family and not pass judgement on those that do not make the same choice.

Organic produce can still have pesticides and sprays.

According to the US Organic Standards Act there are a list of allowed and prohibited substances used in organic farming. Many of the substances may be from natural sources as opposed to synthetic sources. However, just because something is natural does not mean it is less toxic than something synthetic. There are also a few synthetic sprays that are approved in organic farming. Overall, both organic and conventional farmers try to limit their use of sprays. Refer to the pesticide calculator on the website to see how much you may need to eat of certain produce to consume the amount of pesticides associate with the highest risk.

Emphasizing consumption of organic produce may lead to some consumers choosing not to buy produce if they cannot afford it.

The Alliance for Food and Farming is an alliance of both conventional and organic farmers that are working to provide the correct message to consumers regarding how our food is grown. They review peer reviewed research studies on the safety of substances used in farming as well as promote the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

It has been shown that fear-based promotion of eating certain organic fruits and vegetables and calling the conventional counterpart “dirty” can have a negative affect on consumers resulting in reduced fruit and vegetable consumption. Multiple studies have shown the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables and decreased risk for multiple health problems including cancer and heart disease.

Wash all produce.

It does not matter if the produce is organic or conventional, fruits and vegetables need to be washed. Rinse all produce under warm water. Scrub with a brush, if necessary. Washing produce not only reduces some pesticide residue, but also removes dirt.

Describing produce as “clean” or “dirty” is fear-based. We need to stop making conventional produce inferior to organic produce. All produce is good.

I have made an effort to provide balanced resources for you to educate yourself about how our produce is cultivated. Please use this information to make an educated decision about what to feed your family if you would like see receive more information like this please follow me on Facebook or subscribe to my monthly e-blast.

If you enjoy podcasts I would recommend Produce and Pesticides in Perspective from Melissa Joy Dobbins at Sound Bites RD.