What’s the difference between certified organic and conventional produce?
Organic farming is more than just growing crops. It’s about replenishing the soil with healthy bacteria and materials to optimise refertilistation. It’s about creating a bio-diverse environment for insects, birds and other wildlife to thrive. And it’s about utilising renewable resources wherever possible. The end result is vibrant, nutrient dense produce.
To become certified organic, farmers must undergo an arduous process of rigorous soil and produce testing. Organic farmers must ensure their crops are absolutely free from pesticides, genetic or artificial modifications, fertilisers, antibiotics and growth hormones. This can be difficult with ever changing winds that can blow infected crop seeds that have been sprayed or genetically modified from neighbouring farms onto their lands.
Conventional produce may not necessarily be genetically modified or sprayed with pesticides. This can be difficult to ascertain without knowing which farm the produce has been harvested from so that you can make enquiries about their farming processes. Today there are many farmers providing relatively clean produce without going down the organic path.
For some people, consciously choosing to only purchase certified organic produce is right for them. While others buy what is affordable or most convenient, regardless of how it has been grown. Money does have an impact on our decisions and it can be one of the biggest differentiators.
Not surprisingly, the health and food market is saturated with information and it’s hard to know what and how to make the right choice. We do have choices, we need to choose wisely and what fits best into our own individual lifestyle.
So what do you do?
If you can afford to buy organic and it fits your lifestyle, fantastic. There are lots of great options from farmers markets to home deliveries of varying sizes of fruit and vegetable boxes. If you prefer to shop and pick your own, many stores now have a selection of organic produce too.
If you sit somewhere in between organic and conventional, there are some guidelines you can follow to help ensure you have the best of both worlds. Conventional fruits with hard skins like oranges, avocados and bananas are generally fine because you remove the exterior outer layer. This applies to vegetables that you peel. Softer produce, such as strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, and salad greens should ideally be organic or washed thoroughly. There are pre-made vegetable washes available or simply add a capful of household vinegar to the sink of cold water and allow to soak for around 15 minutes. This is also good to remove the wax from apples.
If organic simply doesn’t fit into your budget or lifestyle, purchasing produce from that is in season is the simplest way to save your money. The green grocer will display produce they have an abundance of at the front. These will usually be on sale because they have a surplus, being fresh in season and often locally picked. The imperfect section can also be a great way to ensure you have seasonable and reduced cost, simply because the shape is slightly odd.
It is a good idea to wash your produce regardless to remove dirt, farmers handling crops and for general peace of mind.
Choose wisely. Live vibrantly.
Photo by Neonbrand Unsplash