Organic Vs Conventional- Knowing When to Choose

I value the concept of organic very much. But I wish that it could just be called “food” and not require a label communicating it as “chemical-free”.

That being said, have you noticed HOW MANY products are now available as organic? It’s like companies see how much we value not eating pesticides so they all jumped on the organic bandwagon!

Here’s the thing- some products don’t matter if they are organic or not. Some products require very little pesticide control to manage OR the food itself is not affected by the pesticides (i.e. we don’t actually eat the chemicals).

Now I get it, if you want to buy all organic for the beneficial impact it creates on the environment, then have at it (which I whole-heartedly support!). 

But if you are doing it primarily for your health, there are products you can “safely” buy as conventional and save yourself some money.

How do you know when it’s okay and when it’s not? There are my suggestions.

organic versus conventional

You always want to make an effort to buy animal products that are organic.

This is a big one. From the care of the animals to the food they are fed, organic makes a HUGE difference.

Let’s talk about the dairy industry alone. Did you hear about the whole skittle debacle? The skittles that were spilled all over the road from the back of the truck headed to the dairy farm? Skittles that were intended to be fed to cows?

I’m not going to turn this into a crazy post about what cows are fed etc. But I want you to think about this for a minute. Women who are breastfeeding are told that EVERYTHING they eat can impact the quality and quantity of milk they produce for their baby. And we agree that cow’s milk is created like human’s milk, right?

So do you think a human mom would and should be eating daily skittles, and donuts, and the ton of other crap that conventional farmers feed their cows? No. Because it’s not healthy for the BABY (and in the cow milk industry, you my friends, are the proverbial “babies”).

Choose the organic because they don’t feed them skittles.

I could actually turn just this point into a book, but for the sake of time and you reading this, I won’t. If you want to learn more you can Google things like “what are conventional dairy cows fed” “how dairy cows live” etc.

organic versus conventional

Want to know why milk is pasteurized?

Raw milk fed from grass-fed cows can be very safe. But the dynamic of the milk changes when cows are fed a diet of grain, and junk food, and whatever else the big farms deem okay. Then add in how conventional farms house their cows and mass produce the milk, and the milk has a higher likelihood of having bacteria in it. Hence why it now needs to be heated to a very high temperature (pasteurized) to make it “safe” to consume.

This is also why people tend to be lactose intolerant. As we age we stop creating the enzymes needed to break down milk sugar. The pasteurization process destroys the enzymes that are naturally produced in cows milk. So without our own enzymes and the milk lacking, we can’t process it. #themoreyouknow.

This whole thought line applies to conventional meat as well.

What is fed is broken down and stored in tissue. Therefore whatever the cows are eating will be broken down and end up in the MUSCLE tissue that you are enjoying as ribeye. Same goes for your chickens and pigs. What YOUR food eats matters.

Now for the rest of the suggestions.

organic versus conventional

You can buy conventional bananas, avocados, oranges, and anything in a protective “shell”

Just wash them well when you get home so that you aren’t handling the stuff with the pesticides on them. Regardless of if they wash them after harvesting or at the store, you should wash them again.

You should opt for organic whenever possible for any fruit or vegetable that you will eat the whole of- apples, berries, broccoli, lettuce, etc.  While the chemical companies may try to tell you eating chemicals designed to kill things is OKAY- let’s think about that logic for just one second….

And going back to how what we eat can be stored in our tissues- we don’t know long-term consequences of chronic pesticide exposure from consuming conventional fruits and vegetables. We do however know that cancer is the second “natural” cause of death in the United States. You decide if there’s a correlation.

Lastly is all of the processed foods.

Does it make a difference if you choose regular oil over organic? Absolutely. Check out the difference in the processes of canola- conventional is produced by using chemical solvents, while organic is produced by using a heat process and clay. Side note- it cracks me up to no end the youtube video “canola oil is one of the healthiest oils to eat…” as we wash it with hexane to “clean it up” for you!

Same goes for most of the other production processes for many types of grain. Roundup is often sprayed on conventional wheat after it is felled to make it sprout faster. Refined sugar is processed using sulfur dioxide, phosphoric acid, and calcium hydroxide. This one you want to be cautious of- organic REFINED sugar can undergo a similar process- so look for unrefined.

I am sure I have missed other food groups that you could consider buying conventional. I lean towards choosing organic whenever you can, only because I think it’s a good habit to have. As a rule it’s better for us and better for the environment. Do your research, educate yourself as a consumer, and let me know your thoughts on this topic!

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My mission is to help everyone I can become the healthiest, strongest versions of themselves. I am a Crossfit coach, athlete, Health and Nutrition coach, Movement Rehab Specialist, and a grad student completing my masters in Kinesiology with a focus on integrative wellness.

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