Daryl Hannah on Shopping Organic at Farmers' Markets

Actress Daryl Hannah is a vegetarian -- but one who doesn't really like vegetables.

"I grew up on starch and sugar, and I have a little vegetable phobia," she said today on "Good Morning America."

But organic vegetables -- those that have not been genetically modified, and are grown without pesticides, fertilizers, artificial additives, antibiotics or hormones -- have transformed her apprehension into passion.

Hannah is one of many Americans turning to organic products. Industry research has shown that the organic food sector is one of the fastest-growing segments of the food industry. That might also explain why the number of farmers' markets operating nationwide has doubled over the past 11 years.

Buying Organic at Farmers' Markets

Proponents of organic farming say its methods are innovative, not primitive, and the practices keep organic crops healthy and safe from pests without using chemicals. They also list taste, health and environmental benefits as reasons to choose organic.

"There's really no downside," said Hannah, who is also an environmental activist. "Organic is just all-around a better choice."

Hannah says the best and cheapest place to find organic products are farmers' markets, where consumers purchase produce directly from the farmers themselves. Buying in-season organic produce from farmers' markets can save you money, Hannah says, though savings vary depending on time and season.

"It's expensive at a health food store because there's a middle man," Hannah said. "Your best option is to purchase directly from small farms at the farmers' market."

Buying locally also minimizes the costs and resources required to transport food from the farm to the market, she said.

"The more locally you buy, the better it is for the environment," Hannah said. "You're not burning as many fossil fuels and releasing them into the air."

Is Organic Healthier?

But are organic foods better for you? Many nutritionists say yes.

Fresher foods tend to be better for you because nutrients deteriorate after food is removed from the vine, said Marion Nestle, professor in the department of Nutrition Food Studies and Public Health at New York University.

Nestle says there's another strong case for shopping green: the environment.

"Choosing organic products encourages growers to not use so many pesticides," Nestle said "This gets them out of the environment. It's demonstrably better for the farm workers. It's kinder to the environment in the long run."

The Environmental Protection Agency now considers 60 percent of all herbicides, 90 percent of all fungicides and 30 percent of all insecticides as potentially cancer-causing. Organic foods aren't treated with any of them.

The water content of a fruit or vegetable affects how chemicals are absorbed, so for juicier produce, Hannah recommends choosing organic. (To see Daryl Hannah's organic shopping list, Click Here.)

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Looking good on the outside can play an important role when consumers choose which produce to buy. Organic food, which might not look as perfect as conventionally grown food, can sometimes be a turnoff to consumers.

"Food that is grown as nature intended, and is a little curvier or a little different than what would fit into a certain kind of packaging, that food might go to waste unless it was sold in a farmers' market," Hannah said.

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