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Is Organic Food Worth The Extra Cost?

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(credit: CBS) Natalie Nyhus
Natalie Nyhus joined the WCCO-TV team in January of 2011. She anchors...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Organic food was once only available at health food stores, but today it’s available at almost every grocery store. At a greater cost, of course. That means more consumers are asking the question of whether buying organic is actually worth the extra cost. Here is a look at some of your choices, according to a WebMD report.

Apples

Apples are a good source of fiber, especially if you eat the peel. But that’s also where the pesticides accumulate, so buying organic apples is a good use of your organic food dollars. If you can’t afford organic, scrubbing their skins can help reduce pesticide residues.

Spinach

Spinach is a great source of protein, vitamins, iron, and more, but it also has high levels of pesticide residue. The USDA Pesticide Data Program found 57 different pesticide residues in spinach and 51 in lettuce. Going organic for greens or growing your own is a great option.

Potatoes

Potatoes are a good organic purchase, especially because most conventional potatoes are pesticide intensive crops.

Other Fruits & Vegetables

Because organic can cost 50 to 100 percent more, you may want to consider where you put your organic food dollars. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., recommends going organic on produce that is most susceptible to pesticide residue, like peaches, grapes and pears.

Beef

According to the Organic Trade Association, livestock on an organic farm cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones unnecessarily. It’s a common practice in conventional agriculture. Some experts think using antibiotics this way may contribute to the rise of superbugs and, although the risk to humans isn’t clear, added hormones do show up in supermarket beef.

Milk

Cows raised on conventional farms are often given hormones to increase the amount of milk they produce. Does it pose a health hazard to humans? Scientists don’t agree on whether it does or doesn’t. But organic milk comes from cows that have not been given antibiotics or hormones.

Peanut Butter

Kids tend to eat a lot of peanut butter, so you may want to make sure they’re not ingesting chemicals along with their PB&J sandwiches. Peanut butter made from just organic peanuts and salt is healthier than conventional peanut butter, which contains added hydrogenated oils and sugar.

Conclusions

Here are a few organic foods you may not want to waste your money on: fruits with thick skin like bananas and pineapples. You can add avocado to that list, too. And vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and corn do not require a lot of pesticides, so buying regular may be just fine.

When buying organic, look for the following USDA regulated terms on food labels: “100% organic,” which means the food has no synthetic ingredients and can use the organic seal; “organic,” which means the food has a minimum of 95 percent organic ingredients; and “made with organic ingredients,” which means the food must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. These foods cannot use the seal.

Meat, eggs, poultry, and dairy labeled “organic” must come from animals that have never received antibiotics or growth hormones.

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