The question around organic food remains blurry for a lot of consumers. Oftentimes, the idea is conveyed that organic food is ‘better’ and ‘healthier’ for us. Organic food also has the stigma to be more expensive and a somewhat luxury that only rich people can afford.
Organic is actually a vague term and the legislation differs from country to country. What is organic in the US is for example not necessarily organic in Europe, as the laws are way stricter in the EU. In a nutshell, food is organic if there has been no use of pesticides or fertilizers during the farming process. Usually organic also means no use of irradiation, non GMO and no use of synthetic additives. Now that being said, your produce in your backyard can very well be organic but in countries such as the US or European countries you need a government certification in order to put that label on your food.
The truth is that there is NO study that shows that organic foods are more nutritious than non organic foods; what I mean by that, is that organic apples will have pretty much the same macro and micro nutrients than non organic foods. This is a fact. Moreover, organic doesn’t equal healthy because fish or meat can be organic and as you know, there is extensive scientific evidence that shows that we should not consume animal products.
Now organic foods also do not necessarily taste ‘better’ than non organic foods. Actually, local and seasonal produce is usually your best bet if you want to enjoy good food. Food that is in season, just tastes better because it’s grown outside, at the time of the year that it’s supposed to. Mother nature has that stuff figured out, believe me. The label organic does not guarantee locality or seasonality and hence it’s also not automatically tastier.
Now how do I go about organic vs non organic? My big rule is to follow the dirty dozen/clean fifteen list. Each year, the EWG (=Environmental Working Group) publishes a list with the produce that contains the most pesticides as well as the as the produce that contains the least. They usually rank about 48 fruits and vegetables in that way. This gives consumers a great idea of which foods to focus on when buying organic. Strawberries as well as peaches tend to general be on top of the contaminated list. Produce with thick skins such as pineapples and bananas are safe to buy non organic. While reducing pesticide exposure in general is important, I would prioritize with this list.