All week I’ve been talking about eating a plant-based diet on a budget. One of the questions I get asked regularly is if I buy all organic food. The answer is no. Organic is usually quite a bit more expensive than conventional and often it does not fit into our budget.
What I Learned From Dr. Popper
I’ve heard Dr. Pam Popper says it is better to eat lots of conventional produce than to avoid produce. The information she presented suggested that the positive effects from eating large quantities of whole foods far outweigh the negative effects from the chemicals. She recommended purchasing organic when possible and cleaning produce well.
Here is a video where she discusses some of the research on Conventional vs. Organic. The beginning of the video she discusses salt intake. Skip to the middle for the information on Conventional vs. Organic.
If you don’t have time to watch the video here are some of the highlights.
“Exposure to a chemical or chemical carcinogen appears to be a little bit less important than exposure to a cancer promoter.” She referenced Dr. Campbell’s study in which experiments were conducted with mice exposed to carcinogens; cancer didn’t develop until large amounts of animal protein were given to the mice. This study was illustrated in Forks Over Knives. She also mentioned that in some of the very polluted areas of the world they still have significantly low rates of cancer compared to the United States.
She ends by saying, “If you can afford to buy organic produce that’s great, if its available that’s great. If its not….the benefits of consuming produce outweigh any detrimental effects of exposure to chemicals.”
According to Dr. Fuhrman
In his book Eat to Live, Dr. Fuhrman addresses the issue of eating conventional food. He says, “By basing your diet on unrefined plant foods, you automatically reduce your exposure to the most dangerous chemicals.” He explains how cows and steers are often fed tainted feed and that the contaminants are found in higher concentrations in dairy and beef than in plant food.
How We Apply This
I buy organic when it isn’t too expensive. We usually buy organic spinach and broccoli from Costco for close to $3 each. We also buy organic quinoa there; it is 4 lbs for $9.99.
We purchase organic fruit when it’s affordable. For example, when organic apples are close to $1 a pound I’ll buy those instead of conventional. With that being said I try to stick to $1 a pound for apples all the time. Sometimes they cost more but we do the best we can.