A trip to the supermarket – or a local farmers market or farm stand – offers a dazzling array of fruits and veggies. Which should you pick? If you’re looking for the healthiest choices, head straight for the organic section!
Organic foods are those grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers, as well as other materials such as hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified organisms – all of which are used in conventional agriculture. Organic farming practices include the use of cover crops, manures and crop rotations to fertilize the soil, maximize biological activity and maintain long-term soil health.
A groundbreaking study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in December 2018 found that eating organic foods can dramatically reduce your risk of developing cancer.
The study, led by a team of French scientists, tracked the diets of nearly 69,000 adults over four-plus years. Those who consumed the most organic foods were 25 percent less likely to develop cancer – especially lymphomas and postmenopausal breast cancer – than those who rarely or never ate organic foods.
“Although our findings need to be confirmed, promoting organic food consumption in the general population could be a promising preventive strategy against cancer,” said Julia Baudry, the study’s lead author.
More than three-quarters of the study subjects were women, and the average age was the mid-40s. Study volunteers were scored on how often they ate 16 organic products, including fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, ready-to-eat meals, vegetable oils and condiments, dietary supplements and other products.
Over the course of the study, volunteers developed a total of 1,340 cancers. The most prevalent was breast cancer (459) followed by prostate cancer (180), skin cancer (135), colorectal cancer (99), and non-Hodgk Fifteen” list of conventionally grown produce included: Avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, onions, papayas, frozen sweet peas, eggplants, asparagus, cauliflower, cantaloupes, broccoli, mushrooms, cabbages, honeydew melons and kiwis. Relatively few pesticides were detected on these foods, according to the Environmental Working Group.
For the sake of your health and that of your loved ones, consider going organic! If you can’t go completely organic, you can at least avoid the Dirty Dozen!
Going organic, and supporting organic farmers, also helps protect soils, water and air. Organic farming techniques – especially “regenerative” methods – even enhance the soil’s ability to store carbon, important in efforts to slow climate change.
To learn more about the French study of cancer risk and organic eating, go to https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2707948
For the Environmental Working Group’s shopping guide to conventional produce, go to https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php. The guide includes information about other studies on the impact of pesticides on health.
For information on organic food production, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s site at https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/organic-productionorganic-food-information-access-tools
And to learn more about preserving New Jersey’s farmland and open space, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at email@example.com.