If you buy anything organic, make sure it’s these 7 things
Figuring out our kitchen essentials is often one of the first steps when embracing a more organic lifestyle. While organic food often has a higher price tag than its inorganic counterparts, sussing out the staples to buy can help to keep things on budget.
But, are there foods we can prioritise over others when it comes to going organic? Here, we reveal what the research says about which foods to buy organic.
7 foods we should buy organic
While research on how pesticides and other agricultural chemicals impact our health might be preliminary, studies on the nutritional value of organic food versus non-organic food are increasing.
A 2020 study in the journal, Nutrients, showed that, on average, organic food has more minerals and 30 to 40 percent more micronutrients than non-organic foods. Some researchers believe that this is because when insecticides, fertilisers and chemicals are used, the plant stops producing defence chemicals, which affects the nutritional value of the food.
By choosing organic, you’re also investing in superior farming practices. This conscious decision supports an agricultural approach that abstains from synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, promoting both the nutritional integrity of the product and the long-term health of the planet.
Organic living can mean a heftier price tag, but there are ways you can eat organic food on a budget without racking up a huge shopping bill. Eating seasonally, stocking up your freezer and learning how to grow your own can all cut the cost of eating organic produce and knowing where to spend your money and save your pennies can also help.
A store cupboard staple (particularly if you’re a keen baker) is flour. Unlike its conventional counterparts, organic flour is produced without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or genetically modified organisms, which preserves its nutritional benefits.
According to a study from the Journal of Food Chemistry, when comparing organic vs non-organic flour, results showed that levels of macro and micronutrients were significantly higher in organic flour than in conventional wheat flour. The study also found undesirable metals in higher quantities in non-organic wheat flour.
Incorporating nuts into our diet can do wonders for our health, from improving our blood pressure to powering our brains. While the nutritional disparities between organic and conventional nuts are small, if you snack on them regularly, then it’s worth considering organic versions.
A study by Frontiers In Nutrition revealed that the chemical composition and nutritional value of nuts and seeds depends not only on plant variety and the degree of ripening, but on the agricultural practices and processes that lead to the final product.
Selecting organic nuts isn’t just great for our health; organic practices for farming nuts often involve crop rotation and sustainable farming methods, enhancing soil health and biodiversity. So if you can, make the switch to organic.
Great for smoothies and desserts, fruits such as cherries, strawberries, mango and blueberries can all stay in your freezer until you need them.
In research conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), testers found around 7.8 different pesticides per sample of strawberries, which was more than the 2.2 average found on other fruits and veg. Purchasing organic fruit and berries that you can store helps to keep summer produce fresh all year round and means less food waste in the long run.
Getting your daily dose of leafy greens is essential for your health—not only are they rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but they also provide crucial fibre, support digestion and our overall wellbeing. Unfortunately, leafy greens attract slugs and other pests, which is why many farmers use pesticides to preserve them.
Buying organic leafy greens fresh can be pricey, but it’s a good investment to make. You can always reduce the cost by seeing if there are any organic frozen alternatives to your favourite perishable greens, such as spinach, kale and pak choi.
Fats and oils
Olive and nut oils are often cultivated with synthetic pesticides or genetically modified organisms to improve their durability and growth. A study from the Journal Molecules found that in comparison to non-organic olive oil, the organic version had significantly higher levels of phenolic compounds—essential antioxidants for the body.
Opting for organic fats and oils can be a health-savvy choice. As well as cooking, many of us use olive oil for salad dressings, dips and sauces, so we can make a real difference to our health by being conscious of where our oils and fats come from.
While fresh is almost always best, jarred sauces can be a lifesaver when you’re short on time. Pasta sauces and similar conveniences often include veggies like tomatoes and peppers, but choosing the organic versions of these sauces ensures you’re not cutting corners on your health. It’s a simple way to blend convenience with a commitment to wholesome ingredients.
Snacking on apples can help keep you full and also provide you with a healthy dose of fibre. Unfortunately, fresh fruit like apples, pears, nectarines, plums and peaches are often farmed with pesticides. Data from the EWG showed that all these fruits had a high pesticide residue score, with apples and nectarines testing positive for residues of two or more pesticides.
Surprisingly, the data showed that bananas tended to have a low-to-moderate pesticide residue score, so if you’re trying to buy organic, don’t worry too much about not being able to find organic bananas.