Organic Food: Healthier or Not?

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The organic movement has really grown in the past few years. We want to fill our stomach with healthy food that nurtures our bodies. 

So is organic really healthier? Here we’ll examine differences between organics and their non-organic counterparts so you can decide what’s best.

Nutrients
According to a major study recently published, there is no evidence that organic food has more nutrients than conventionally grown foods. The study reviewed 162 scientific papers published over the past 50 years and found that while there was a minor difference is nutrient levels, this was unlikely to be of any significance for health and well-being.
 
Sprays and Chemicals
The main reason many people chose organic foods over conventional is to avoid sprays, pesticides and chemicals used in food production. So are we eating residues of these chemicals and are they harming us?
There is legislation that defines the amount of agricultural compound residue allowed in food and this is looked at by the NZ Food Safety Authority (NZFSA). Every five years the NZFSA carries out the New Zealand Total Diet Survey which tests more than 120 foods most commonly eaten as part of a typical NZ diet, to determine the concentrations of agricultural compound residues and contaminant elements (arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury).
The findings from the last survey released in 2006 found that of the 200,000 individual tests carried out as part of the study, only 997 showed any detectable residues, all well below their Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) limits. More can be read about the survey here.
So while these results are very reassuring, some still have concerns about the risk that residues could pose. Choosing certified organics is one way to be certain that there are no residues on your food.
Taste
If you taste a tomato from the supermarket, compared to an organic, home grown tomato there is definitely a difference! Now it’s spring why not grow your own organics? – that way you’ll get healthy, great tasting food fresh from your own back yard.
Organics is a choice that can be too expensive for some, even if they’d prefer foods produced without pesticides and sprays. A good tip everyone should follow is to wash fruit and vegetables before use. You can also peel them, but do bear in mind that this will reduce nutrient levels.
Organic or not, the choice is yours. Whatever your preference, remember to be healthy a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables is key for good health.
Nicola, Nutritionist
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