Whether to select organic vs. non-organic vegan products was one of my first questions when I began a vegan diet. Back then, hardly anyone had an understanding of what veganism was and few people considered organic food an option because how to be vegan was not as easily comprehended as it is today. I wanted to focus on my health. Like most health-conscious people, I resolved to reduce my exposure to pesticides from food.
According to an article comparing organic and non-organic food, the Mayo Clinic states that research shows organic produce does tend to have less pesticide in and on it. Nonetheless, organic produce is not necessarily free of pesticides. Both organic and non-organic produce meet the federal standards for pesticide content.
Knowing that I am likely paying more for organic in the hopes of escaping chemicals but I may not succeed is not heartening to me. I’m frustrated that we have fouled our own nest as a people.
The Mayo Clinic also indicates that the withholding of preservatives and waxes from organic fruit and vegetables can mean quicker spoilage. Since my goal is to buy produce when it is as fresh as possible, I don’t care that much about this issue. I am, however, someone who is able to market frequently for fresh food. This isn’t true for everyone.
Friends often impatiently tell me that the word “organic” doesn’t really mean anything. A visit to the United States Department of Agriculture website leaves me rather confused. The Mayo Clinic article asserts that the USDA holds growers and producers to a higher standard for the organic label. The USDA website left me clicking on one item after another without providing me any real data.
What seems to be clear is that the label “Organic” can only be used if the product is completely free of anything that isn’t organic. Such products can be rated with the phrase “Completely organic.” The rub, however, is that products may be only 95 percent organic and still be labeled “Organic,” just not with the word “completely.”
Most experts agree that organic foods cost more. They dispute whether the higher monetary investment pays off in better nutrition. Nutritional comparisons really don’t find much difference at all between conventional and organic foods. This finding leaves me really annoyed because the agencies that do such ratings are not looking through the same lens I am.
So what is the difference between the organic food seeking vegan and governmental scientists in the way they look at assessing the value of food? First of all, the USDA finds a considerable amount of pesticide acceptable. I don’t. Unfortunately, I have learned that much of our organic food doesn’t insulate me completely from pesticide exposure.
Unlike many authorities in nutrition, I have a primary concern with the way the earth is used. I prefer organic because it is better—even if more expensive— farming. It means that natural predator insects are used instead of chemicals to protect plants. Greater use is made of plant rotation so that the soil isn’t depleted without having to resort to chemical fertilizers. Natural fertilizers are employed when necessary. All of that is meaningful to me in its implications for the planet and for what I ingest.
Anyone who cares about organic vegan products vs. non-organic should beware the label “natural.” It is essentially a meaningless term. My entire exploration of this topic leads me to conclude along with the Mayo Clinic that everyone should try for the most varied diet possible to lessen the exposure to chemicals in any specific products. We also need to make every effort to get food when it is very fresh.
Not all vegan food is organic nor is all organic food vegan. So, which is which? Get the answer to this question and many others from within the pages of my latest published ebook that’s now available at Amazon.com. It is compatible with Amazon Kindle as well as Apple iPad and PC and it will take you but a quick minute to download.
Filed under: Certified Vegan Products
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