Organics Safer, No More Nutritious Than Conventional Foods

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A greener choice

Beyond the wallet and personal health, there are lots of reasons consumers may want to choose organic.

"The advantages to consumers in buying organic are both personal—lowering risk—and societal—less environmental impact from the growing of the food. Organic food represents a distinct choice for the food buyer. Do you want to support the conventional system, which relies on intensive fertilizer and pesticide use, or not? Your local organic farmer is the alternative," said Russell Libby, the executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association, the oldest and largest state organic organization in the country.

Organics don't have to strain the pocketbook either. Libby said consumers can buy organic directly from farmers, at farmers' markets and farm stands at prices that are often competitive with supermarket prices.

So the bottom line? Not all conventionally grown foods contain residue nor are organics always the more virtuous choice. A good rule of thumb: Skin can protect the fruit or vegetable from any pesticide exposure so when the outside can be peeled away, it may not be worth spending the extra cash for organic.

The Environmental Working Group publishes an annual list of "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean" lists of conventional fruits and vegetables. This year apples topped the dirty list with 98 percent of apples containing pesticides, while onions were named the cleanest.

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