Ask the RD: Organic Foods

May 23

by Edna Cox Rice, RD, CSG, LDN

Is it really a health benefit to buy the more expensive fruits and vegetables that are organically grown?

You’ve probably noticed, even in your local grocery store, there are more varieties of organic foods than ever. The benefits vs. the extra cost are worth questioning and can be quite confusing. What does organic labeling mean? The labeling is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

There are several different organic labels: 

  • 100% Organic: Made only with organic ingredients
  • Organic: Made with at least 95% organic ingredients
  • Made with organic ingredients: Must contain at least 70% organic ingredients

To clarify: Organic foods aren’t necessarily grown without pesticides or fertilizers, but instead with those types found naturally in the environment, with substances on an approved list. Whether organic foods are safer, healthier, or more nutritious is still being studied. If you prefer organically produced foods, read the organic labeling to be sure you are getting what you are looking for.

Here in South Carolina we have an abundance of produce that is grown locally. Our state grows everything from Apples to Zucchini. Shipping and handling is minimal for produce grown and sold locally, so fewer pesticides to extend the foods’ shelf life are necessary. Buying locally helps decrease the overall costs.

Take advantage of the abundance in our state. Check with local farmers and the farmers’ market in your area. Look for Certified S.C. Grown and take advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables – they cost less and we all know locally grown is the freshest, safest and the tastiest! Enjoy!