07 Dec Organic Produce: The All or Nothing Mentality
By Daniel Preiato, Contributing Blogger
Over the past decade, organic food sales in the US have increased from $6 billion in 2000 to $28.4 billion in 2012, with fruits and vegetables accounting for 43% of sales. While the move towards organic food purchasing may seem positive some demographics are unable to afford organic produce. Research has shown that this inability to afford organic produce may cause a decline in buying fruits and vegetables of any kind. With the average American greatly under-consuming fruits and vegetables, these finding are of great concern.
A recent study surveyed 510 low-income shoppers to learn about their attitudes towards organic and conventional fruits and vegetables. The study found that participants preferred organic produce, but the cost prevented them from purchasing organic. Providing participants with information on both organic and conventional produce did not cause more overall fruit and vegetable purchases. They actually found that providing participants with information on conventional produce grown with pesticides decreased purchases of fruits and vegetables all together.
Why Categorizing Foods is Detrimental
As we can see from this study, common beliefs greatly influence purchasing patterns. When foods are labeled ‘good’ or ‘bad’, people tend to have an all or nothing approach to those foods. For those who cannot afford organic produce, this presents a real problem. and perpetuates the grim statistics regarding fruit and vegetable consumption in America.
What Does This Mean For the General Population?
If proper processing techniques are followed for conventional produce, residual pesticides can be reduced to safe and edible levels.(2) As long as produce is properly washed and processed, it is perfectly safe to eat. There is no need to always buy organic produce. If it’s not in your budget, it’s best to still try to eat the recommended 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit per day.
Best Practices for Cleaning Produce
- Cut away any damaged or bruised areas
- Wash under cold running water or for make a 3:1, water to vinegar solution. Let produce sit for a few minutes and rinse with cold water. The vinegar removes any residue without affecting taste.
- A clean produce brush can be used for extra scrubbing power.
- Peel products such as carrots or potatoes to remove any potential residue.
- Drying produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel may further reduce bacteria or residue.
- Huang, Yancui, Indika Edirisinghe, and Britt M. Burton-Freeman. “Low-Income Shoppers and Fruit and Vegetables.” Nutrition Today 51.5 (2016): 242-50. Web.
- Kaushik, Geetanjali, Santosh Satya, and S.n. Naik. “Food Processing a Tool to Pesticide Residue Dissipation – A Review.” Food Research International 42.1 (2009): 26-40. Web.
Daniel Preiato, BS, DTR is a recent graduate of New York University with a bachelors degree in Nutrition and Food Studies. He is currently completing a distance dietetic internship with Priority Nutrition Care. Daniel’s concentration is in sports dietetics and culinary nutrition but he also works with the general population. Check out his website to find out more!