There’s no doubt that organically grown products have health benefits, as well as being more environmentally-friendly – but they also have a high price tag. This can put people off buying them, and may lead them to questionning if other products are going to do them harm. There is also a small range of organic foods available to shoppers.
In general, many people in the UK do not eat enough whole plant foods whether they are organically grown or not. In many ways this is the thing to focus on. These foods add many vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre, to our diets. And, while the chemicals applied to non-organic products are not great, for most people the overall content of their diet is a bigger concern. Some of the chemicals applied to foods can be dealt with by the body’s natural detoxification processes (such as the liver and kidneys), assuming they are working well. Other chemicals can accumulate in the body and may do harm in the long-term – the consumption of a good range of whole plant foods can help to protect the body from these effects; as can rinsing and peeling fruit and veg if appropriate (yes, there are nutrients in the peel but this is where more of the sprayed chemicals may lurk too).
For non-plant foods, there is a risk that the chemicals have accumulated in the product from the animals’ diets. If this is a concern to you and money is tight, it may be better for you to consider buying less of better quality products.
One thing to be aware of, the use of chemicals is regulated within the UK and different rules apply to other countries – when reading articles it is helpful to check the country that the story or study applies to and the rules that apply there. Do those rules differ to those in the UK? The Pesticide Action Network is a useful resource for those interested in finding out more about this topic, including the option to receive their Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list to help you make better choices when shopping (to obtain this you now need to subscribe to their email list): https://www.pan-uk.org/
One way to increase your organically-grown food intake is to grow-your-own. To do this as organically as possible you need to consider the soil content (when were chemicals last used in that ground, etc), and the fertilisers etc you apply, as well as the source of the seeds or saplings. It is worth noting that in gardening terms the word “organic” can simply mean plant and not chemical-free. Like with packaged foods, it’s important to read the label to understand what you are buying.
As a nutritional therapist I work with clients individually – we will consider their budget, diet and health needs when agreeing a nutrition strategy to ensure it will work for them.