So “what’s the difference?” I hear a lot of talk of confusion between organic and conventional produce, so here’s a quick rundown that I hope helps make sense of it all.
There’s also a great website and mobile app called “What’s On My Food?” that I use frequently.
ORGANIC food is grown without any (or with minimal) pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. In order to grow produce this way and fend off pests, it’s necessary to have the dozens of minerals in the soil that give the plants their natural ability to fight them off. These same minerals are what give us the nutrients we need.
CONVENTIONAL produce is grown using NPK fertilizer – a base of just three minerals usually derived from petroleum products. This is how the majority of our food is grown. Since the other dozens of minerals are missing, the plants are vulnerable to more pests, and so many more chemicals and “‘cides” are needed to fend them off.
GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) crops are created so that the conventional produce is genetically able to grow with its own internal pesticides. We’re now learning that not only does consuming GMO crops mean that we’re possibly causing our own bodies to start to produce these pesticides (that they may be changing our genetic expression over time), but there’s an even more sinister element. Monsanto, the mother of all companies producing GMO aggressively markets seeds called ‘Terminator Seeds.’ These grow crops that are sterile and cannot produce a crop the following year, and they are contaminating the organic crops posing a potential threat to our species.
BEWARE THIS COMMON SLIP-UP:
Just because produce is organic doesn’t mean it’s not GMO. It is possible to have GMO crops that are grown to organic standards, without any harsh pesticides or chemicals. This is only, however, because the plant itself produces these bizarre Frankenstein properties within itself to keep pests at bay. So beware the most common culprit that I see everywhere – ORGANIC SEEDLESS. Seedless watermelon, grapes, oranges. Anything seedless is GMO, and research shows a link to many animals losing the ability to reproduce after just a few generations on a GMO diet.
THE CLEAN 15 AND THE DIRTY DOZEN:
If you’re pinching pennies then you should know the CLEAN 15 & THE DIRTY DOZEN. This is put together by a panel of scientists letting you know which conventional produce to absolutely avoid and which you can get away with eating without serious pesticide exposure. You can reduce your food pesticide exposure by up to 80% by being diligent about this.
Still be aware that when you’re eating conventional you’re likely only getting the NPK base of three minerals, rather than the dozens from organic, meaning your body will need to eat more to be nourished. It’s better to buy less organic to save money, and you may be surprised how filling it is.
The President promised to mandate that GMO food be labeled as such, but we’re still waiting for this to happen. There is a bill on the table in California right now however that may change this.
ANIMALS ARE EATING CONVENTIONAL GMO:
It’s important to note that regardless of where you fall in the carnivore vs. vegetarian debate, all factory farm animals are thought to be eating only GMO and/or conventional crops. In many cases also eating foods not natural to their diets – such as cows eating corn meal instead of grass. Hence they are very sick and require antibiotics and on and on. But that’s a whole other conversation and this has already gone on longer than I intended.
I hope this helps anyone curious understand the difference between the types of produce available for them to purchase and optimize their health!