Are organic vegetables worth the money?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created March 29, 2013 at 3:49 PM

I've always assumed the difference between organic and non organic vegetables is equivalent to grass and grain fed beef.

But then I read that the "organic" is often meaningless that you're just wasting money on the same thing.

What do you think?

Medium avatar


on March 29, 2013
at 04:19 PM

I don't think my local farmers are anywhere near the quality level of the grocery store. I support them because they're local, and eat what I can harvest or collect myself despite quality or condition. I don't eat grade A wild plums, huckleberries, oysters and clams, and I don't lay down any particular standards on my local farmers.



on March 29, 2013
at 04:14 PM

@UncleLongHair, the local produce will be considerably fresher than the store's, so it will retain more nutrients.



on March 29, 2013
at 04:13 PM

Sure, but you can ask the farmer and get a straight answer. Not everything that fails "organic" is bad. Some of the chemical treatments are find to consume. The Grocer will not be able to answer those questions.



on March 29, 2013
at 04:03 PM

Agree that farmer's markets can be a great source, but many local farmers aren't organic, so the vegetables can be just the same quality as you get in the store but more expensive.



on March 29, 2013
at 03:53 PM

fresh vegetables from a reliable source are worth the money. If you can, farmer's markets (or the farm itself) are the place to go.

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7 Answers



on March 29, 2013
at 04:38 PM

Are organic vegetables worth it from a dietary standpoint? I don't think so.

I prefer organic vegetables and fruits from an economics and agricultural standpoint, though. I would prefer not putting money in Monsanto's pocket so that they can sue small farmers whose crops are tainted by their seeds. I would prefer not creating more superweeds. I would prefer not needing to create genetically modified plants that can withstand the Roundup assault that then edge out heirloom varieties and greatly lessen the genetic diversity of our foods. Variety is evolutionary wise.




on March 29, 2013
at 04:48 PM

I think you're asking the wrong question. I mean, local, organic famers are always better. see below.

if you're asking about non-local stuff, just keep in mind that you are going to start consuming a lot more veggies on paleo/perfect health diet/primal/whatever now... I made the mistake of buying lots of dirty dozen foods (kale, apples, grapes, cherries, tomatoes, celery) and I wish I hadn't because I reacted to the pesticides/didn't wash things well enough. i mean, probably you'll be fine - but if you're eating the stuff raw, not cooked, I would still buy supermarket organic (unless it looks sad, which is the case for me and then I just buy frozen organic stuff).

check this out: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss

Although fruits and vegetables are still our best source of nutrients, those grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion.

It would be overkill to say that the carrot you eat today has very little nutrition in it???especially compared to some of the other less healthy foods you likely also eat???but it is true that fruits and vegetables grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion: Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows. Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.

Davis and his colleagues chalk up this declining nutritional content to the preponderance of agricultural practices designed to improve traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition.

???Efforts to breed new varieties of crops that provide greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly,??? reported Davis, ???but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth.??? There have likely been declines in other nutrients, too, he said, such as magnesium, zinc and vitamins B-6 and E, but they were not studied in 1950 and more research is needed to find out how much less we are getting of these key vitamins and minerals.

The Organic Consumers Association cites several other studies with similar findings: A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent. A similar study of British nutrient data from 1930 to 1980, published in the British Food Journal,found that in 20 vegetables the average calcium content had declined 19 percent; iron 22 percent; and potassium 14 percent. Yet another study concluded that one would have to eat eight oranges today to derive the same amount of Vitamin A as our grandparents would have gotten from one.

What can be done? The key to healthier produce is healthier soil. Alternating fields between growing seasons to give land time to restore would be one important step. Also, foregoing pesticides and fertilizers in favor of organic growing methods is good for the soil, the produce and its consumers. Those who want to get the most nutritious fruits and vegetables should buy regularly from local organic farmers.

I think paleo, primal, Perfect health diet, etc. always advocate local organic farmers over supermarket. Even if they hadn't, though a couple of reasons for you:

1) It also tastes better. 2) if local, better nutrition and likely better soil 3) no one donned a respirator to transport my food 4) methyl bromide (banned as a greenhouse gas), and now sulfuryl fluoride - a lot of these pesticides are very NOT paleo/NOT good for us (bganimalpharm has a nice post about pesticides) 5) if you're having reactions (acne, stomach problems, etc.) there is a possibility it's pesticides - don't discount it, at least, since that (health problems) are why a lot of people try paleo...

I thought I had covered all my bases but until I switched to local organic, some health problems wouldn't go away.



on March 29, 2013
at 04:40 PM

You have to weight the overall cost of everything. Remember that the non-organic produce is much more reliant on fossil fuels through all the chemicals. The soil is often damaged by these chemicals also. Organic soil holds water much better so there is less input in that regard, too. Some people think there are more phytochemicals in organic because they have to up their natural defenses.

Buying organic doesn't always mean sustainable though. In his book Folks This Aint Normal, Joel Salatin tells how organic may not be best for the environment, or freshness. Like they said above, local means freshness. Organic produce from california won't be as fresh as spinach grown by your local farmer even if he had to treat it with something to get rid of an aphid problem, for example. The shipping of organic produce also extends globalization which kills me and I never buy organic from outside the US, meaning I'm mostly seasonal. My vice is coconut and avocado. Coconut will never be local for me, and avocados from florida would be optimal, but in winter thats rare so I avoid it.

For me personally, I'm going to get into gardening very soon as soon as my yard is ready and hopefully will get much of my produce from there. I will grow it organically with my own produced compost because I care that much about its impact and its true cost to me, my body, my local environment, my money flow to certain businesses like big Ag and Oil, etc.

It's all about how much cost you want to assume in your food, whether or not that is personal health, environment, local economy, etc etc. For me the option is clear: Local (preferably organic) is best, followed by organic at all costs. I just don't like big Ag at all...

Big organic > Big Ag <<<<< Local farmers



on March 29, 2013
at 04:35 PM

A study on fruit flies recently found fruit flies living on organic fruits & veggies lived longer and had superior life-parameters in comparison to the other ff-group on a non-organic diet.

Does that mean organic food is also better for us? Probably. Does that mean we should double the amount of money we spent on purchasing organic grown food from the supermarket? No.

Although some of the food that is sold labeled 'organic' is not truly organic, the food that are really organic at the supermarket might only be better than regular products when you look at the toxin level and the ethics.

Lower toxin levels? Isn't that a big reason to purchase organic foods?

No, not really. As some studies (I can only talk about studies in Europe here) have shown organic foods to be lower in toxins on average, many regular grown foods showed pretty good results with 90% or so in a range that's not nearly considered to be toxic in humans.

However, if you are interested in getting foods with a higher mineral and vitamin content, locally grown food is the right thing for you. Especially Vit C is a vitamin that is actually rarely found in foods from the supermarket. Organic and not-organic.


on March 29, 2013
at 04:28 PM

nope! you get more toxins from the food.



on March 29, 2013
at 04:16 PM

No, it's not worth it. Local, however, is definitely worth getting, because it is fresher. As for the whole pesticides thing, it's peanuts in comparison to the toxins found naturally in plants.

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on March 29, 2013
at 04:11 PM

Not for me. The ideal is home grown, but I don't have a garden. After that locally grown, in season. After that, from the grocery store. Once I get to that level it's more a matter of what's on sale and fresh.

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