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Organic or Not?

Organic Food

Organic foods are grown and processed naturally, using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. They cost more, but are organic foods any better for you than non-organic? Rachel Jones, MPH, a registered dietitian at University of Utah Health Care, sheds some light on this issue.

Q. Does eating organic foods pose health benefits over non-organic?

A. Organic does not necessarily offer benefits over non-organic. Studies are decidedly mixed, but we do know that people who eat fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, organic or not, tend to have lower risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.


Q. What foods are the "dirtiest" or contain the highest levels of pesticides?

A. The following fruits and vegetables are most vulnerable to bugs and bacteria, meaning they're most likely to be treated with pesticides: apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, potatoes, hot peppers, kale and collard greens. Try growing these foods yourself, or buy them locally to increase the nutrient content.


Q. What's the best way to clean fruits and vegetables?

A. All produce, organic or not, should be thoroughly cleaned before eating. Bacteria known to cause gastrointestinal illness, such as E. coli, can survive on unwashed produce. Before eating fruits and veggies, rinse them well or use a lemon-water or vinegar-water spray. You can use dish soap and water on the outside of melons to clean off dirt, debris or traces of bacteria that might enter the melons when slicing into them.

As a registered dietitian, I consider price and availability of organic produce. Regardless, my first priority is to get fruits and vegetables into my diet every day.