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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Varriale

Is organic food better for you?

This is a HUGE topic so I'm going to focus on food (unsurprisingly!). Discover what the research shows, what the "Dirty Dozen" is, and how organic your supermarket is. Plus get £15 off a Riverford veggie box!

I'm often asked about the benefits of organic fruit and vegetables over non-organic.

Some studies have shown that organic vegetables contain more nutrients and antioxidants than non-organic, and the impact of pesticides on our health is hotly debated.

Why choose organic?

  • Reduced exposure to pesticides, hormones and antibiotics

  • Better for the soil

  • Better for wildlife and animals

  • It’s the way nature intended!

What does the research say?

Here are some interesting snippets from recent research:

  • The presence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) in pesticides and other chemicals has been known about for decades (a quick google brings up a range of research papers). EDCs are compounds that alter the normal functioning of the endocrine system which can affect hormone balance. They can bind to and activate oestrogen receptors, impair the production, transport, metabolism and elimination of hormones and even inhibit thyroid hormone production. (1)

  • A 2019 systematic review - that’s a study of studies - found that in long-term studies, an increased intake of organic food appeared to reduce the incidence of infertility, birth defects, allergies, metabolic syndrome, high BMI, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Organic intake was also linked to reduced levels of pesticides and herbicides found in urine. That said, the author pointed out that organic consumers are more likely to be health conscious, physically active, eat a more plant-based diet, have higher education levels and income, and therefore are not representative of the general population. (2)

  • A small but interesting 2022 study followed two groups of participants that switched from a conventional Western diet to either an organic or non-organic Mediterranean diet with higher levels of fruits and vegetables. Whilst those on the non-organic diet increased their fruit and vegetable intake (which is good!), they also had higher levels of urinary pesticide residues in their urine (not so good). In the organic group, urinary pesticide residues reduced by 91% (3)

Buying organic food can be more expensive, so what should you prioritise?

Improving vegetable and fruit intake is beneficial for EVERYONE'S health and non-organic is better than none at all. But if you want to avoid pesticides, here are some things to consider:

  • A weekly organic veggie box is a great idea, encourages eating more seasonally, and is better for the environment as food miles are reduced as produce is more local. Personally I use Riverford (which I highly recommend!). Use this link to order your first box, and we'll both get £15 as a thank you. I will donate my share to DementiaUK as it's also Alzheimer's awareness month.

  • Check out the "Dirty Dozen" below for the fruit and veg that have been found to contain the high pesticide residues - it's mainly fruit. PLEASE NOTE - this is based on analysis of the UK Government's Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues by Pesticides Action Network UK. You may see other lists doing the rounds which are based on US data (EWG) but some of their regulations are less stringent than ours.

  • The supermarkets are also waking up to organic and offer a wide range of organic produce - see how your favourite store compares here.

  • Finally, I also buy organic eggs, chicken and meat to avoid unnecessary hormones and antibiotics.

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The content on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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