Is buying organic worth it?

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Most people will tell you they want to eat healthier, and for some, that means eating organic foods, but are they really safer, healthier and worth the cost?

Melissa Cox, a mother of two, and blogger for Frugalissa Finds said when organic products became more mainstream, she did some research and started to change what she put on her grocery list.

“I’m very concerned about all the chemicals and hormones. Especially since I’m raising a young daughter,” Cox said. Milk is one item she buys organic, no matter the price.

More: Cost saving organic recipes

However, Janet Buck, a registered dietitian with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, said that while shoppers intentions might be good when buying organic, milk is not an area to spend the extra dollars. “The latest research and evidence I have seen is milk is so highly regulated by the USDA. There is no sufficient evidence or proof that it affects growth in young girls,” says registered dietitian with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Janet Buck.

The National Dairy Council claims milk is among the agricultural products with the lowest detectable amounts of pesticides. Cox says she is not convinced and will continue to buy organic dairy.

“I have an 8-year-old daughter and some of her friends are showing signs of puberty,” said Cox. “When I was a little girl, we did not have that. I think the proof is in the pudding.”

Is buying organic worth the cost?

Cox is quick to point out that there are ways to save money on higher cost items, like organic foods. She said she regularly posts deals on Frugalissa Finds and says she can make organic work on her budget and often feels better about buying certain products.

“I look at the sales ads each week, and sometimes I can buy the organic for the same price as the conventional produce,” Cox said. In fact, after a short time shopping at Kroger, WATE 6 On Your Side found in some cases, like in the yogurt aisle, organic was cheaper.

However, if you go solely organic that can add up too. Where should you draw the line?

Buck says the answer is simple. “The most important thing to remember, particularly with kids, is for them to have a good variety of fruits and veggies and whole grains and lean meats and low fat dairy products,” she said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says feeding children, organic fruits and vegetables may cut down on the amount of potentially harmful chemicals and help prevent immunity to antibiotics. However, they also said if organic products break the bank, then it’s not worth it.

“Whether a food is grown organically or conventionally, the nutritional value is the same. There is a misconception among many consumers that organic products are somehow more nutritious,” said Buck, adding that people often get confused with all the terms on food products.

The nutritionist said there are a few things to remember:

  • If you are buying conventional fruits or veggies, you can reduce your exposure to any chemicals by always thoroughly washing every item, peeling things, and cooking fruits and veggies.
  • Check out “The Dirty Dozen” list, a list of foods that prove to have higher level of pesticides
  • Also, look over the “The Clean 15” list, which outlines the foods that little or no levels of pesticides

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