There are so many myths surrounding organic foods versus conventionally grown foods that when you’re grocery shopping, it can be hard to figure out what to buy. Most people choose organic food in order to avoid pesticides or antibiotics, but does that come at a cost? While there are lots of good reasons to choose organic food over conventionally grown food, there are some myths swirling about organic food, so we decided to take a look at the top five.
5 Organic Food Myths
1. Myth: Organic Always Means Pesticide-Free
Organic foods typically contain fewer pesticides than non-organic foods, but there are over 20 chemicals that farmers are able to use on organic crops to help keep those crops pest-free. Mainly, farmers can use things like natural pesticides to treat crops, and these pesticides may not be much safer for the environment (or your health) than synthetic pesticides. What’s more, because organic foods are more expensive to produce, they’ll cost you more at the grocery store—on average, about 20% more.
2. Myth: Organic Foods Are More Nutritious
From a nutritional standpoint, organic foods aren’t any different from non-organic foods. To use the old apples-to-apples comparison, an organic apple and a conventionally grown apple will both contain the same nutrients. But apples do top the “Dirty Dozen” produce list.
3. Myth: Organic Farming is Better for Farm Animals
With organic meat production, antibiotics can’t be used to treat illnesses in animals. This means that you’re guaranteed antibiotic-free protein—but it also means that there are fewer options available for organic farmers to treat sick animals. In one study, research showed that among pig farmers, up to a quarter of pigs on organic farms had pneumonia compared to only 4% of pigs on conventional farms, and piglets on organic farms died twice as often. Meet our Farmer of the Year winners.
4. Myth: An Organic Label Means 100% Organic Food
According to USDA rules, the majority of ingredients within a product must be organic for the product to qualify for the organic label. The current minimum is 70% organic. This means that if you want true organic food, you’ll need to read labels carefully. Look for the 100% organic label to make sure that all ingredients are organic.
5. Myth: All Conventionally Grown Produce Is High in Pesticides
Turns out, a significant amount of conventionally grown produce is free of pesticide residue. Roughly 38% of conventional produce samples test positive for pesticide residues, while 7% of organic samples test positive. So, if you’d like to save a little money on conventional produce, consider onions, corn, avocadoes, pineapples, sweet peas, mangos, eggplant, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms, which test low for pesticide residue. Conversely, conventionally grown celery, bell peppers, apples, peaches, strawberries, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, potatoes, green beans, and kale all test highest for residual pesticide levels.
We encourage our readers to do their research before heading to the supermarket and read labels once there so that you can make the best decisions for you and your family.
Amber Kanuckel is a freelance writer from rural Ohio who loves all things outdoors. She specializes in home, garden, environmental, and green living topics.