What foods to buy organic and how to spend less when you do

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Is organic healthier?
It depends. “In general, the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are the same as in conventional foods,” says MacLean. “Changes in vitamin and mineral content are also quite negligible.” A 2014 analysis of 343 studies, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that organic produce contained higher levels of disease-fighting antioxidants than conventional produce. Other studies have found no significant difference.

Bringing products, whether conventional or organic, away can negatively impact nutrients, says Mary Ellen Camire, PhD, professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Maine at Orono. And the United States imports organic foods from many countries — nearly 100 in 2021, according to Reana Kovalcik, director of public affairs at the Organic Trade Association.

Are there fewer pesticides?
Yes. A small study published in Environmental Research in 2019 found that people who switched from a conventional diet to an organic diet had lower levels of pesticide metabolites in their urine. And while what we know about the harms of synthetic pesticides is limited, the Environmental Protection Agency says exposure to agricultural pesticides has been linked to asthma, bronchitis, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease and some cancers. Additionally, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2020 reported a higher risk of death from any cause as well as cardiovascular disease in people with the highest levels of pesticide metabolites. pyrethroids in their urine. Some research also suggests that children with higher exposure to certain pesticides are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and that synthetic pesticides can disrupt our endocrine system, which is responsible for hormonal regulation.

Is organic better for the environment?
Yes. Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers can damage soil and pollute water. “Many pesticides and synthetic forms of fertilizers, if not managed and refined, often end up in our water and even in our fish,” says Garry Stephenson, PhD, professor in the Department of Crop and Plant Sciences. Oregon soils. Corvallis State University. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, nitrogen-based fertilizers, often used in conventional agriculture, are major contributors to air and water pollution.

However, nowadays, some conventional farmers are turning to methods that preserve the environment. For example, some are turning to organic fertilizers, says Matt Ryan, PhD, associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

For farm animals, organic rules require that they have year-round outdoor access and are raised on organic land, and that grazing animals such as livestock have access to organic pasture at least 120 days a year. It takes space to exercise, but animals do not need a certain space or should never be caged, and overall animal welfare requirements for USDA Organic certification are minimal.

Are the animals given antibiotics?
Generally not, with the exception of chickens and turkeys still in the egg and on the first day of life. But routine antibiotics are still widely used in conventional beef and poultry, which can lead to antibiotic-resistant infections. “It means infections [in animals and people] that were easy to cure can potentially become serious, even fatal,” says James E. Rogers, PhD, director of food safety research and testing at CR.

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