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At Professor Wellbody's Academy of Health & Wellness, we understand there's only one thing harder than making healthy behavior changes: Sticking to them! We all need a little help from our friends, and that's the purpose of the Wellbody Blog, a friendly online gathering spot--a community well--where you can dip into health news; wellness tips; recipes; latest research about nutrition, exercise, sleep and hygiene; plus, real stories from virtual neighbors who are also trying to change their lives for the better. Start from wherever you are; share ideas, information, inspiration. At Pacific Science Center, we believe each of us can do something everyday to improve our health and well-being.

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Wellbody Tip: Organic (or Not?) on a Budget

Peak harvest season in the Pacific Northwest means abundant peaches, apples, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, blueberries and more.

apple

When and why to choose organic? And how to manage on a budget?

Researchers continue to debate the nutritional benefits of organic. Studies of specific fruits and vegetables have found markedly increased levels of vitamins in organic strawberries and citrus, for example, compared to conventionally raised fruit.

In contrast, a Stanford University meta-analysis of existing studies didn’t find strong evidence that organic foods were more nutritious than conventional raised foods, though organic produce had a 30 percent lower risk of pesticide contamination.

A yearlong, peer-reviewed Emory University study of children on Mercer Island found that the urine and saliva of children eating a variety of conventional foods from area groceries contained biological markers of organophosphates, the family of pesticides spawned by the creation of nerve gas agents in World War II. When the same children switched to organic fruits, vegetables and juices, signs of pesticides disappeared within eight to 36 hours.

And though the jury is still out on whether individuals benefit from an organic diet, it’s clear that for farm workers and the land, food grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers mean less exposure to potential toxins that could harm body and soil for years to come.

Click here to hear Harvard professor (Alex) Lu explain why people should avoid pesticides and tour a grocery store with Dr. Sanjay Gupta to see which foods have the highest levels of pesticide residue.

Click here to see Environmental Working Group’s 2013 Shoppers’ Guide to Pesticides in Produce, including the

  • Dirty Dozen Plus with highest toxin load: Apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, imported nectarines, peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, kale/collards and summer squash and
  • Clean Fifteen: Asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, sweet corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangos, mushrooms, onions, papayas, pineapples, frozen sweet peas and sweet potatoes.

Foodbabe.com has more than 75 terrific tips about eating organic on a budget  including recipes, coupons, food preservation tips (place limp celery, baby carrots and radishes in water with a slice of potato to make them crunchy again) and book recommendations.

Most important: Eat lots of fruits and vegetables! Even if you choose not to buy organic, the health benefits of eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies outweighs the risk of pesticide residue. 

 

Do you eat organic? If so, which foods are at the top of your list to buy organic? Whether or not you choose to eat organic, please share your tips for eating healthy on a budget with Wellbody Blog by commenting or emailing professorwellbody@pacsci.org. You'll be entered in a random drawing for two free passes to visit Wellbody Academy.

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Guest Tuesday, 23 September 2014