What is the big difference between commercial produce and organic produce?
The answer is plenty. Let’s take a look at some of the differences. First of all, most commercial growers use the same acreage and soil over and over again without time to allow the soil to “heal” between plantings. The healing process means allowing the soil to lay fallow for at least one season. This entails tilling the soil with the left over plant material after harvest, in order to feed the soil any remaining plant nutrients and minerals, and allowing both worms and bacteria time to breakdown and decompose organic material in order to prepare the soil for the next planting. This process feeds and nurtures the soil to allow the next crop the proper balance of nutrient absorption from the soil. In commercial farming, profit is the motive, therefore, the acreage is used season after season without allowing for the soil to create its own nutrients. The soil effectively becomes lifeless, with no nutrients to feed the crops. In commercial farming, therefore, the need for artificial fertilizers becomes most important, otherwise the crops could not grow to any size.
In addition to not allowing the soil to rest, the commercial farmers also use certain fungicides and weed killers by injecting them directly into the soil, which eventually leads to the plants uptake of these poisons. Commercial strawberries and grapes are a perfect example, growers use soil based fungicides that are absorbed directly into the plant, so no amount of washing will get rid of these poisons. Additionally, the crops are sprayed with pesticides on the outside as well. These pesticides are oil based in order to avoid excess runoff of applied pesticides and don’t come off with simple washing.
Since nitrogen is a growth stimulator, all commercial fertilizers have a high nitrogen content. So, the big and beautiful non organic vegetables will definitely “look” better, but don’t be deceived, the “bigness” comes from water content and as for the nutritional content, commercial produce carries far less vitamins and minerals as their organic counterparts. On the other hand, organic fertilizer contains all the building blocks to create a mineral rich feed for the crop. The produce may not look as pretty or be as big, but ounce for ounce, the organic produce has multiples of the nutritional content that commercial produce contains. I prefer paying more for organics, with the thought that over a lifetime of eating, it is a wise investment….in comparison to slowly being poisoned by commercial produce’s pesticides and fungicides.
Every year, the Environmental Working Group posts a list of tested fruits and vegetables as to their pesticide content. Here is a partial list of the top 10 “dirty” fruits and vegetables and the bottom ten of less toxic produce.
The produce with the most pesticides for the last few years has been:
Celery, apples, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, strawberries, and nectarines
The produce with the least pesticides is as follows:
Asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, pineapple, onions, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwis, and sweet potatoes
Overall, it is important to eat fruits and vegetables, whether organic or commercial, but when there is a choice, go for organics whenever possible.
A robust and healthy body can withstand some minor pesticide and fungicide insults, but over time, these insults damage the filtering organs of the body and tissues and put an unnatural stress on the body. Over time, that may translate into compromised health, and then the costs associated with commercial fruits and vegetables will become more apparent.