Going Organic- The cost hits and benefits of buying vegan produce

As part of my lifestyle and diet change, I’m going to start buying organic produce whenever it is available.  I have bought it (very) sporadically in the past, and I’m not sure why I haven’t completely made the switch before now.  I really don’t have a good excuse except that the organic option always costs more.  But just how expensive is it to buy organic produce versus non?

I recently did a little comparative study.  I went to Kroger, thinking it might be a more widespread chain compared to others.  Indeed, looking at a map of the states with Kroger, it looks I was mostly right.  Anyway, I wrote down the organic and regular prices for five common vegetables.  Here’s the breakdown:

Organic Non-Organic
Green onion $.85 $.64
Radish $1.72 $1.29
Zucchini $2.17/lb (assume 1 pound) $1.99/lb (assume 1 pound)
Broccoli $2.00/4 small stems $2.28/3 medium stems
Red Leaf Lettuce $2.05 $1.99/lb (buying 1 pound)
Totals $8.79 $8.19

When all is said and done, you are saving only 7.3% by buying non-organic produce!

Granted, it is a little difficult to compare some of these foods.  For example, I am equating 4 small stems of broccoli with 3 medium stems.  However you look at it, though, the benefit outweighs the cost.  Organically grown foods must be free of most common pesticides and fertilizers, as well as antibiotics and growth hormones.  Fruits and vegetables can contain high levels of pesticides which we know are especially dangerous for young children and pregnant women and fetuses.  The deleterious effects of low levels of pesticides in the diets of the general public have not been conclusively proven or disproven.  I guess my official position is that if there is a question regarding the long-term health risks of something in my food, I’d rather ere on the safe side.  As my mom likes to say, you either spend it now on food or later on doctor’s bills.  I know where I’d rather put my money.

Besides the health concerns surrounding organic foods versus conventional ones, there are other issues to take into consideration.  Organic farming is better for the environment, safer for farmers and their families, and supports smaller farms.

There is some debate as to the benefits of buying organic with regards to foods with peels (such as bananas) that will be discarded before eating.  Here is a list of foods that typically contain the most pesticides and therefore should definitely be purchased organic whenever possible:

  1. nectarines
  2. celery
  3. pears
  4. peaches
  5. apples
  6. cherries
  7. strawberries
  8. grapes
  9. spinach
  10. potatoes
  11. bell peppers
  12. red raspberries

This next list of foods typically have the lowest levels of pesticides and may be more protected by their thicker skins:

  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocados
  3. Bananas
  4. Broccoli
  5. Cauliflower
  6. Corn
  7. Kiwi
  8. Mangoes
  9. Onions
  10. Papaya
  11. Pineapples
  12. Sweet Peas

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