A common question I get from my patients ‘is it worth the money to buy organic?’ It is a very good question and let me explain to you why the answer is yes.

Eating organic produce is not just about avoiding pesticides and fungicides but about eating food that is more nutrient dense. Organic foods actually have more vitamins and minerals in them.

Since the 1950s the USDA has kept record of the nutrient content of 43 commercially grown crops. Vitamin C had declined by 20%, iron by 15% and calcium by 16% “Eat an apple a day to keep the doctor away” in 1940 is now “eat three apples a day to keep the doctor away”. That’s right; you now need to eat three apples today to get the nutrient value of one apple in 1940.
The lack of nutrients in today’s crops is due to using chemical fertilizers instead of organic soil. Studies have found crops grown organically versus conventionally have more nutrients. One study in particular compared mineral content in crops for 2 years and found the organically grown food averaged 63% higher in calcium, 78% higher in chromium, 73% higher in iron, 118% higher in magnesium, 125% higher in potassium and 60% higher in zinc. The organically raised food averaged 29% lower in lead and 25% lower in mercury than the conventionally raised food. (http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/Arun/Organic%20vs%20supermarket...)

One reason for organic produce being more nutrient dense is that crops grown with chemical fertilizers grow more quickly. This gives conventional crops less time and opportunity to accumulate nutrients. They also develop smaller and shallower root systems compared to organically grown plants, so they don’t have access to as many soil minerals.

Genetics also plays a part in the decline of the nutrition of conventional crops. USDA researchers recently found that breeding to ‘improve’ wheat varieties over the past 130 years has reduced levels of iron by 28% and zinc and selenium by roughly a third.

Conventional produce is slowly but surely becoming empty calories so eating organic is definitely worth the extra money. Yet be careful of organic food that is processed. Organic Oreos are not a health food! Neither are organic canned produce. When a food is canned it loses nutritional value because of the heating process that takes place.

Also try to buy from local farmers and businesses when possible. Food that is in season is highest in nutrients and it will also put variety in your diet.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Alicia Armitstead is a licensed chiropractor in New York City. In her clinic, Healing Arts Chiropractor, she is dedicated to designing personal health improvement programs. Dr. Armitstead holds degrees from University of Bridgeport and the University of Bridgeport Chiropractic College in Connecticut. She is certified in Advanced Clinical Training of Nutrition Response TestingSM.