Primal Junction guide to Organic over Conventional Beauty Foods
Organic versus conventional: what’s the scoop?
There have always been mixed thoughts about the difference between organic and conventional fruits and vegetables especially when it comes to nutrient density and the impact on health.
We always advocate choosing foods as close to their natural form as possible, without the addition of toxins and contaminants before, during or after the growing process. Not only is organic produce more “primal” and less likely to expose us to pesticide residue, it has also been a recent topic in the news after the British Journal of Nutrition published a review of 343 studies on the topic.
The general findings supported the hotly debated point that organic fruits and vegetables are a better choice when it comes to promoting health.
The main conclusions drawn included higher antioxidant levels in the organic foods, a reduced occurrence of pesticide residue, and that these foods are also 48% less likely to contain the toxic metal cadmium (present in cigarette smoke), which can be damaging to the liver and kidneys at high levels. Non-organic produce also contained more nitrates and the occurrence of detectable pesticide residues was four times higher in conventional crops than organic.
Go organic for beauty
One of the main findings of this comprehensive review relates to the higher antioxidant levels found in organic foods. Antioxidants are compounds such as Vitamin C and E, coenzyme Q10, zinc, copper and beta-carotene. You may recognise some of these terms from the package of your moisturiser or night cream! This is because skincare products have long “harnessed” the antioxidant compounds that are believed to reduce oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals.
Do you notice how an avocado or freshly cut apple goes brown? This is the same principle. Oxidation on the surface of the fruit can be related to the wrinkles, discolouration and fine lines that appear on our skin as we age. The bottom line? Although the absorption rates and direct effects of increasing your dietary antioxidant levels is not conclusive in the literature, there is no harm in upping your intake of antioxidants by eating a broader range and larger amount of coloured, fresh and organic fruits and vegetables.
Where do I shop for organic fruits and vegetables?
The farmer’s market is the best stop for fresh fruit and vegetables. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s great to know which vegetables are better to buy organic (more likely to have chemical residues) and which ones have the lowest risk. In the US, The Environmental Working Group has released a “dirty dozen” list of vegetables and fruits with the highest potential for pesticide residue. If you’re in Australia, it’s not confirmed that this list will be the same – but with similar conventional farming practices, we still refer to it as a guide. We recommend getting your fruits and vegetables from an organic or spray-free source as much as possible, but here’s a summary from the US research:
Go organic for: apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, capsicum, nectarines, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, snap-peas, potatoes
Less risk of chemical residue on: asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangoes, onions, papaya, pineapple, sweet peas, sweet potatoes
Of course, you will always read differing views towards the health implications of conventional versus organic. We don’t really know if the boost in antioxidants will be carried into the body, if all farms are following sustainable and toxic free practices, or if it’s more important to eat any vegetables, let alone organic ones! One thing is for certain. There’s no harm in voting with your dollar to support local and spray-free farmers, investing in the future health of your family and selecting seasonal produce that is as close to it’s natural state as possible. There is no doubt that organic fruits and vegetables are healthy, colourful and full of life!
So tell us beauties – do you buy only organic, a few organic fruits and vegetables or none at all? We would love to know how important going organic is to you! Comment below and tell us your thoughts.
Baranski, M. et al. (2014). Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. British Journal of Nutrition.