Why & When Should I Purchase Organic advice from a Calgary Nutritionist

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One question that I have been asked about a lot when working with clients and also talking with friends and family is: “How important is it to buy organic?”. The simple answer is to eat the best that you can afford - if your budget only allows for you to eat conventional produce, that’s fine (its still significantly better for human health to eat fruits and veg than to avoid them) and if you are able to spend a little more to purchase organic, that’s great too.

Here’s the deal:

We have a little bit of a glyphosate issue…glyphosate is the active ingredient in “Roundup” is the most used herbicide in human history (and the most widely used herbicide in Canada and the US) and has increased 15 fold since the introduction on GMO crops in 1996 (GMO crops were bred to resist the effects of the herbicides and survive even after being sprayed).

Health Canada sets limits in terms of what is an acceptable amount of these chemicals on raw agriculture commodities and indicates that these limits must be complied with and that anything under this limit (99.4% between 2015-2017) is safe for consumption.

But there’s more to the story…

In 2015, the WHO determined that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”, and a recent study found that there was a “compelling link between exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides and increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma in humans. Glyphosate may also negatively impact soil health, which is the basis and foundation for human nutrition and may also impact certain bacterial strains in the gut microbiome.

Here are my suggestions when it comes to purchasing produce:

1) The EWG publishes a list of the “Dirty Dozen” each year which highlight the most sprayed crops - this can be useful to help prioritize which foods are purchased organic.

2) Frozen fruits and veggies are often cheaper and they are just as good as fresh (since they are picked at peak ripeness and retain their nutrients (sometimes even more than fresh).

3) Shop at local farmers markets for fresh produce.

4) Buy foods that are “in-season” which will also help reduce the cost.

5) Wash all produce regardless or whether it is organic or conventional.

I personally choose organic wherever possible because its a priority for me and a choice I make for our family. I love supporting local organic farmers “voting with my wallet” and I’m ok with cutting other things out to make that happen.

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