Science Mom: No, You Can’t Buy Your Way Healthy With Organic Food

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science momThere has been a culture shift in the way we eat in this country over the past twenty years – and along with it, a culture clash. The rise of organic food, depending on who you ask, is either a ridiculous hippie fad, or the only thing standing between your family and a catastrophic lack of nutrition. The fact that you can now buy organic fruit snacks, organic potato chips, and organic peanut-butter-stuffed pretzels suggests to me that organic food isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but what are the actual merits of shopping in the more expensive organic aisles at the supermarket?

If you’re shopping in the organic food aisle because of the superior nutritive quality offered by organic foods, here’s a tip: save your pennies and move on over to the regular aisles. As far as nutritional density goes, an organic orange is no more enriched in Vitamin C, no more full of dietary fiber, and no more good for your family than any other tomato. Reviews of the scientific literature indicate that a conventionally-grown cabbage is not any worse for you than an organically-grown cabbage, and since they’re both going to taste like cabbage when you eat them anyway, you may as well eat the cheap one if your main concern is your kids’ health and nutrition.

You may be dismayed with me right now at spoiling the image of those gorgeous, ripe organic strawberries that you just bought at the grocery store: of every molecule just teeming with essential nutrients you just can’t get from a conventional strawberry, but them’s the breaks: strawberries are strawberries. If, by the way, another mom tries to shame you for feeding your kids conventionally-grown carrot sticks instead of organic spinach (or organic marshmallow fluff, which is apparently a thing for some reason), I’ll have your back while you stare her down with each chomp of your ranch-dipped orange poison stick of death.

All that said, I will add that a large part of the produce my family eats is organic, despite the arguments for nutritional advantages being totally bunk. How come?

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