You must have noticed that every supermarket has an organic section these days. The vegetables may not look special, but they are often priced higher than what you get at the market. If you’re not sure which one to buy, and ultimately – if organic veggies are worth the price (and hype), we’ve got the answers for you. Read on to learn more about organic versus inorganic vegetables.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must have come across reports, articles, and talks that talk about the goodness of organic fruits and vegetables. Many celebrities and wellness experts also give testimonials about how much better their lives have been since they started taking organic foods. The question remains: is eating organic really good for you or is it just another wellness craze?
In short, the answer is yes. Buying organic fruits and vegetables is definitely worth the price. But we need to look at the matter thoroughly.
Organic vs inorganic vegetables
To understand why organic versions are considered better than their conventionally grown counterparts, we need to understand the difference in the growing method of the two.
The problem with conventionally grown vegetables is that they are often full of harmful chemicals. Because conventional foods are grown with large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers, they often absorb these harmful chemicals, which are then consumed by us.
No matter how well you wash the vegetables, you cannot wash out pesticide residues.
How are organic vegetables grown?
Fruits and vegetables that have been grown in a way that meets certain criteria are called “organic.” According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “Producers can be called organic if they have been grown on land that has not been subjected to banned substances for three years prior to harvest. Banned substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. In cases where a grower needs to use a synthetic substance to achieve a specific goal, the substance must first be approved according to criteria that examine the effects on human health and the environment.”sources,
The USDA determines which vegetables are considered “organic” and “non-organic” and labels them accordingly. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers foods “organic” if foods meet USDA standards and FDA food safety standards. ,sources,
In India, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issues the “Jaivik Bharat” certification for all organic fruits, vegetables and food products. As the Jaivik Bharat The regulations define it as follows: “Organic food is products of holistic farming practices focused on biodiversity, soil health, chemical-free inputs, etc. with an environmentally and socially responsible approach that are produced in accordance with organic production standards.” ,sources,
How to identify organic vegetables
It is of course difficult for the layman to say which vegetables are organic and which are not. Usually we just trust the label. So searchorganic” food labels issued by relevant government agencies.
This is because companies often mislabel their products to trick their buyers into spending more. But if you buy food without proper government certification, you could be cheated. You lose more than money to health.
Do organic fruits and vegetables contain pesticides?
In a word – no. In organic farming, the use of pesticides has been restricted. Studies show that the largest cause of human exposure to pesticide residues is the consumption of conventionally grown produce. In fact, many studies have shown that inorganic vegetables routinely test positive for pesticide contamination – all over the world. ,sources,sources,sources,
These chemicals are harmful, can lead to serious complications and can even lead to hormonal imbalances, tumor growth and cancer. Scientists say that exposure to these pesticides, heavy metals and other harmful substances through the consumption of fruits and vegetables poses a major threat to public health. ,sources,
Difference between organic and non-organic vegetables
In general, organic vegetables are always much more nutritious than conventional products.
An international team of experts led by University of Newcastle has shown that organic crops are up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally grown crops.
The study, published in the prestigious British Journal of Nutrition, also shows significantly lower levels of toxic heavy metals in organic crops. Cadmium was found to be almost 50% lower in organic crops than conventionally grown crops.
University of Newcastle Professor Carlo Leifertwho led the study said:
“This study shows that choosing foods produced according to organic standards can lead to increased intake of nutritionally desirable antioxidants and reduced exposure to toxic heavy metals.
“The debate about organic versus non-organic has been raging for decades now, but the evidence from this study is overwhelming – that organic foods contain more antioxidants and fewer toxic metals and pesticides.
“But this study should only be a starting point. We have demonstrated beyond doubt that there are differences in composition between organic and conventional crops, now there is an urgent need for well-controlled human nutritional interventions and cohort studies specifically designed to identify and quantify the health impacts of switching to organic foods.” ,sources,
According to another 2013 study published in the journal PLOS ONE (2013), organically grown tomatoes have significantly higher nutrient content than conventionally grown tomatoes with agrochemicals. The organic tomatoes were found to contain 55% more vitamin C and 139% more total phenol content at the stage of maturity compared to conventionally grown tomatoes. ,sources,
Organic versus non-organic fruits and vegetables
A 2007 Quality Low Input Food Project from the University of Hohenheim, Germany, into organic foods revealed the best benefits of consuming organic. The researchers grew fruits and vegetables and raised livestock, on adjacent organic and non-organic sites, and found that:
- Organic fruits and vegetables contain up to 40 percent more antioxidants.
- Organic products contain higher levels of beneficial minerals such as iron and zinc.
- Milk from organic herds contained up to 90 percent more antioxidants.
The results were so significant that they concluded that “eating organic foods may even help increase nutrient intake in people who don’t eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.” ,sources,
That should settle the organic versus non-organic debate for most people!
Hydroponic vegetables vs. organic vegetables
A new type of cultivation is now conquering the world through storm hydroponic farming. In this method, plants are grown without soil. The essential nutrients are supplied to the roots by water and the produce is grown in water solutions.
Vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and peppers are now grown hydroponically in many places. While hydroponics can contain all-organic nutrients, it can also use chemicals to feed the plants.
Hydroponic vegetables may not be organic, but they are considered sustainable because they significantly reduce water usage and waste. ,sources,
There is controversy over whether hydronic cultivation can be considered organic. Organic farming implies the use of no chemical ingredients. However, the USDA states that hydroponic vegetables can be certified organic if they meet certain criteria. This has remained a bone of contention between organic farmers and federal authorities. ,sources,
Are Non-Organic Vegetables Safe?
The freshness of vegetables is a more important criterion than organic or non-organic. Choose fresh first, then choose organic for fresh. Old or wilted organic vegetables are worse than fresh conventional produce.
So if you get the chance to pick up fresh, non-organic veggies, go for it!
Non-organic vegetables to avoid
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) each year produces a list of the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables to avoid. The list is based on available information from the annual reports of the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program.
This list is about products that are considered safe by federal authorities but are considered unsafe by the EWG. But even the EWG experts believe that eating vegetables, even conventionally grown vegetables, has benefits that far outweigh the risks of consuming pesticide residues.
Here’s the “Dirty Dozen” list for 2019 (sources,
The EWG also warns that some sweet corn, papaya and summer squash available in U.S. markets are produced with genetically modified (GM) seeds. You may want to look to local farmers’ markets and organic departments for these products instead.
Remember one thing: fruits and vegetables are essential parts of our diet. So don’t be paranoid if you can’t find certified organic products in your area. Studies show that eating vegetables – whether organic or not – has many benefits. If you stop eating them for fear of ingesting trace amounts of pesticides, you may be doing yourself even more harm.
So go ahead and make veggies the star of your meals. You now know that for the most impact you should choose fresh and organic vegetables. And finally, a relief for the mothers who can finally choose the most nutritious vegetables (even if the portion is small) for the children who turn up their noses at the “green” on the plate.
- Di Noia J. Defining powerhouse fruits and vegetables : a nutrient density approach. Prev Chronic Dis 2014;11:130–390.
- 2007 Quality Low Input Food project
- Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organic crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses.October 2014
- The influence of organic and conventional cultivation systems on the nutritional value and the content of bioactive substances in selected tomato varietiesNov. 2012
- The impact of organic farming on the quality of tomatoes 2013