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Understanding Organics: Fruits & Vegetables

Picking organic produce
Understanding Organics: Fruits & Vegetables: Main Image
Organic agriculture utilizes conservation practices that protect soil, water, and air.

How are organic crops grown?

Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without relying on chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Organic growing practices protect the ecosystem, the health of those who work the land, and the long-term well-being of customers who eat the crops. Specifically, organic crops are grown in the following ways:

  • Organic crops don’t rely on potentially harmful toxic chemical pesticides, herbicides, fumigants, or synthetic fertilizers.
  • Organic produce is never genetically engineered or modified, and is never irradiated.
  • Organic farming helps protect our air, soil, water, and food supply from potentially toxic chemicals and other pollutants.
  • Organic farming conserves natural resources by recycling natural materials.

What is the difference between “organic” and “transitional”?

Any certified organic plant product must come from fields that have remained free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides for at least three years, and must follow regulations outlined above. Foods grown on lands not yet meeting organic standards may receive a "transitional" label if they follow the strict requirements for conversion.

How do you wash organic produce?

Although organic produce is grown without chemicals, pesticide residue can drift from conventional farms, as well as contaminated soil. Fortunately, properly washing produce can help eliminate most pesticide residue. Follow these tips when cleaning produce:

  • Use a biodegradable, nontoxic produce wash containing ingredients derived from natural sources, such as baking soda and citric acid.
  • Make your own wash with equal proportions vinegar and water, or put 1 tablespoon (14.5 ml) lemon juice, 2 tablespoons (29 ml) baking soda, and 1 cup (236 ml) water in a spray bottle.

Why does organic food cost more?

Organic agriculture is not subsidized to the same extent as conventional agriculture, and organic practices, such as hand weeding, are often labor-intensive, and therefore more expensive. Because organic farms and industry are generally small, they cannot take advantage of economies of scale. Organic agriculture utilizes conservation practices that protect soil, water, and air; while they do cost more, those who employ and support these practices view the extra cost as an investment in the future.

What if organic produce is unavailable?

For those who are trying to avoid exposure to chemical residue, you can drastically lower your pesticide exposure by eating the conventially produced fruits and vegetables that tend to have the least contamination: asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, kiwi, mangos, onions, papaya, pineapples, and peas.


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