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27 April, 2009

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25 April, 2009

How To-129: "How to Choose the Most Important Organic Foods"

How to Choose the Most Important Organic Foods

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

How many times have you thought "organic foods are too expensive; I can't afford to go organic"? Or maybe you feel it is just too difficult to wade through all the statistics and information on choosing organic foods and the reasons for preferring it over conventionally grown foods. Organic foods are good for you because they are free of many added chemicals and hormones that conventionally grown foods receive as part of the growth cycle. However, it can add up at the cash register to try and keep yourself healthier by eating organic foods. To help you make your decisions in an informed way, here are some simple tips to identify the best choices and stay within budget.


  1. Understand why organic foods should be an important part of your diet. Organic foods are grown with no or fewer chemical or hormonal additives in their growth cycle than conventionally grown produce and meat. This means that laws on organic labelling in many places ban the use of a wide array of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, hormone treatments, antiobiotics etc. on any produce or meat destined to carry an organic certification.
  2. Choose the crucial dozen organic foods. The dozen foods listed next are considered to be the foods most vulnerable to the addition of too many pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics etc. This top dozen lists food items where home washing and cooking practices are unlikely to result in reduction of the chemical or hormonal residues:
    • Beef, chicken and pork
    • Dairy products: Milk, cheese and butter
    • Strawberries, raspberries and cherries
    • Apples and pears
    • Tomatoes
    • Spinach and salad greens
    • Coffee
    • Potatoes
    • Stone fruits: Peaches, nectarines and apricots
    • Grapes
    • Celery
    • Peppers (capsicums), green and red
  3. Shop for seasonal foods. Seasonally available produce is the budget-conscious shopper's prize. Produce in season is always value for money because it is plentiful and this includes organic produce. In addition, seasonal food often travels less distance as it is grown locally and therefore will keep in better condition (more nutrients), for longer. From a comfort perspective, there is something very calming and traditional about eating the way our ancestors have for millennia; you become attuned to the cycle of the seasons. An added bonus: You are less inclined to overfill your fridge with food that ends up going unnoticed, which saves you money.
  4. Eat in moderation. The statistics on obesity continue to rise. We do not need huge quantities of food; too much food makes our bodies sick rather than healthy and happy. While eating in moderation means eating less food overall, it most certainly does not mean going without and feeling hungry. Change to eating more energy-sustaining foods, such as organic grains and pulses to bulk out your diet. You will not need to eat as much of these foods, as unlike processed foods, you will feel full faster and for longer. Your budget will go further simply through choosing prime quality organic foods in smaller amounts. Most importantly, eating in moderation will result in less intake of chemical and hormonal residues and that can only be a good outcome for everyone.
  5. Eat variety. Variety means including all those vegetables and not just living off potatoes. The more that you vary your diet within seasonal constraints, there is a higher likelihood that you will have less exposure to a build-up of one type of chemical residues. Variety also means an interesting and fulfilling diet, as well as a greater likelihood that you will get all the nutrients, anti-oxidants and fibre that you need to keep healthy.
  6. Be realistic. Most nutritionists would still prefer that you eat fruit and vegetables whether they are organic or conventional in origin in preference to highly processed foods. Use the list set out in step 2 to pick the organic foods and then purchase conventional foods for the remainder if you have a tight budget. Taking the simple step of choosing some organics to include in your diet is an important one of taking control over what is potentially affecting your health; whilstyou will still be surrounded by the chemical load of our industrial age, you are taking positive action to help yourself and to encourage organic growers at the same time.


  • The "harm" discussed in this article that may arise from eating conventionally grown foods arises in particular out of the accumulative effects of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, hormones, antiobiotics and other chemicals or additives. Over time, small doses build up in your body, particularly in body fat. This can lead to triggering diseases such as cancer and can cause problems with your immune system, blood and other bodily functions.
  • Be aware that, depending on the jurisdiction in which your foods have been grown, small amounts of certain types of chemicals may have been used on organic produce. In general, if such chemicals have been certified as allowed for use in the organic sector, they ought to be ones considered to safe for human consumption as a result of scientific testing and observations over a very long period of time and to come with a high level of certainty as to their negligible impacts on human beings. If this bothers you still, do your research to find out just what "organic" labels permit in your part of the world. Some organic producers use natural products that they deem safe, but that have not been tested scientifically. Also organic producers may fertilize their crops with animal manures which have not been properly composted. These foods pose a risk for pathogens that can cause serious illness.
  • Try to reduce the amounts of processed foods in your diet. You get less nutritional benefits from processed foods, organic or not. *If you really enjoy that cake laden with sugar (yes it is very processed), have it once a month rather than everyday. Then it becomes a blissful treat rather than something taken for granted.
  • Always wash vegetables and fruit well; some stores sell special detergents for this. Just because it is labeled organic doesn't mean it is safe to eat without a wash; bacteria thrive under all conditions.


  • Some jurisdictions may have more lax laws on what "organic" means. Always do your research first. Read labels carefully; some products try to be organic but contain very little in the way of organic components, such as breakfast cereals. The more processed an item, the more likely it is that you should read the label carefully.
  • Be wary of industry propaganda aimed at belittling organic efforts. There are some seriously bad side effects from many of the chemicals and hormones used in our food and where profits are at stake, there is also plenty to discourage you from making healthy choices for you and your family. Do your own research; don't just take this article as gospel either. You are responsible for learning as much as you can about your health and how to protect it.
  • Do not confuse organic and natural. The two terms are different, although they may be used on the same item. Natural by itself means nothing; in most places it is an entirely unregulated term that means nothing other than what the manufacturer wants it to mean.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

  • These are links to quality sites that will provide more information on organic produce, certification of organic produce, how the organic industry is being run etc.:
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Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Choose the Most Important Organic Foods. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.