Organic fruits and vegetables are grown using natural fertilizers. No synthetic
chemicals are used to prevent diseases or to kill weeds and insects that can damage crops. For their growing methods to be considered organic, farmers use a variety of techniques such as:
Are organic fruits and vegetables better for you?
- using insects that don't harm plants to kill the bugs that do
- enriching the soil by giving a field the year off once in awhile and plowing whatever grows there under the ground to provide nutrients. It's a little like adding compost to your backyard garden.
- killing pests like weeds and insects that can damage crops with chemicals found in nature
- applying manure and other natural wastes to fertilize crops back to top
Fruits and vegetables grown using organic methods aren't necessarily more nutritious than foods grown using synthetic chemicals. Other factors, like the amount of sunshine and rain, the quality of the soil, the type of seeds, and how ripe that peach is when it's picked, affect the amount of vitamins
it contains. Some organic produce may taste great, but the flavor really depends on things like how ripe the food is when harvested and the length of time between when the food was picked and when you eat it. Go ahead and compare an organic tomato from the farmstand with a tomato you buy at the supermarket. Let your own taste buds decide if it's worth the extra money. back to top
Is organic produce safe?
Both organic and regular produce are safe for you to eat. Some nonorganic produce may contain a trace of the pesticides used to kill weeds and insects. But there are laws that say that any chemical residue
left on a food must be much less than the amount that could cause health problems in people. Also, the word organic
on the label does not guarantee that the food has no chemical residue. For example, some organic produce may carry residue from pesticides carried by the wind or water from a nearby farm. But organic farming methods are safer for the planet. Chemical pesticides can kill helpful insects that protect plants and serve as food for animals. They may also harm fish and other wildlife. back to top
Where can I find organic produce?
Health food stores or your family's vegetable garden used to be the only place where you could find organic produce. Today, most grocery stores carry some organic fruits and vegetables. Or check out local farmers' markets, where farmers set up shop to sell fruits and vegetables. Many local farms don't use chemical pesticides. But be sure to ask if there are no signs saying organic growing methods were used. back to top
How do I clean produce?
If the idea of pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables bugs you, be sure to wash fresh produce under running water before you eat it. Don't use soap, which can deposit chemicals of its own. Here are some tips for cleaning produce:
- Use a vegetable brush on items that will stand up to a scrubbing, such as carrots and apples. Many markets and kitchen stores carry these gentle brushes.
- Discard the outer layer of leaves on leafy vegetables, like a head of lettuce. If you have a garden, these outer leaves make great compost. back to top