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Is Organically Grown Food Really Healthier

Or is it just a marketing scam?

If you're a health-conscious consumer, you probably don't like the idea of ingesting pesticides, herbicides, petroleum or sewage sluge-based fertilizers, let alone growth hormones and unnecessary antibiotics. Since all these ingredients are used in the production of our conventionally grown food supply, anyone interested in a healthy lifestyle would probably favor organic food when possible.

But how do we know this stuff is really organically grown? Are we just taking their word for it? Well, kinda. But anyone found breaking the rules is subject to a $10,000 fine for each infraction. And there are a LOT of rules. So, while it's not beyond the realm of possibility that someone would try to pull a fast one, it's very unlikely.

Is organically grown really healthier? Or is that just wishful thinking? There was a study done a year or so ago. It lasted 15 days, run by a team of environmental health scientists from the University of Washington, Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using a group of 23 elementary school students in the Seattle area.

During the first three days and last seven days, the children ate their normal foods. But during the middle five days, organic items, including fruits, vegetables, juices and processed foods like cereal and pasta were substituted.

Average levels of pesticides in the children "decreased to the non-detect levels immediately after the introduction of organic diets and remained non-detectable until the conventional diets were reintroduced," the researchers said in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

So it appears that eating organic really makes a difference, assuming you think having all the pesticide residues in your body disappear actually matters. I think any sane person would, but there are those who disagree. Make up your own mind.

Regarding the price differential between organic and conventional foods - yes, organic costs more. But by judicious purchasing, the difference can be minimized. According to the Environmental Working Group, the fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated are apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach, and strawberries - so if you're on a budget, try to always buy these organically grown when possible, and purchase your other produce conventionally grown. Note that these foods were washed before testing, so it's not feasible to think you can improve on their results by spirited cleaning.

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