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Organic vegetables have been gaining in popularity by leaps and bounds in the last few years. Everywhere you go stores are selling them and people are talking about them. But what exactly are the benefits of organic vegetables? Do they contain more nutrients than conventional produce? Are the benefits you might get from organic vegetables worth the extra price?
With the topic of organics there are many questions, but there are also plenty of answers. There have been numerous scientific studies done and there are government agencies and not-for-profit groups that pay very close attention to organics. These organizations, such as the Environmental Working Group, do a great job compiling information on organics for the public and staying on top of the newest available research.
Image Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1305627
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The pesticides that are used every day on conventional farms can make their way into the food that is produced on those farms. Pesticides have a range of effects on humans, especially pregnant women and children. The EPA states that prolonged pesticide exposure can cause birth defects, nerve damage, and cancer as well as other detrimental health effects. With conventional foods being exposed to as many as 30 pesticides during their growing and storage it is best to avoid those carrying the highest pesticide loads.
Not all vegetables are heavily contaminated with the pesticides they've been exposed to, but others such as celery, spinach and bell peppers do carry a measurable load of pesticides. The Environmental Working Group has put together a handy shopper's guide to help those interested in buying organic vegetables make the best choices with their money.
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There is some research that suggests that nutrient levels in organic foods may be higher than in conventional foods. As vegetables are a major source of many important vitamins and minerals, higher levels can only be beneficial.
Additionally, in a 2009 study published in the Journal of HortScience, researchers found that the average vegetable in today's supermarkets has anywhere between 5% and 40% less minerals such as magnesium, calcium and iron than those that were produced in the 1950s.
This disturbing trend definitely makes organic vegetables look more attractive as there have been many studies finding that organic produce does have more nutrient content than conventional. There are also studies that find that the levels between organic and conventionally grown produce are fairly similar, but when dealing with health and nutrition erring on the side of caution is always a good idea.
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Organic vegetables and the environment
In addition to the health benefits of organic vegetables, there are also benefits to our environment. The growing of organic vegetables keeps toxic chemicals out o the soil and water. Organic farmers use healthier farming practices such as rotating crops every year and using natural pesticides such and ladybugs and complimentary plants to control pest populations. All of this ads up to a happier planet.
By spending your money on organic vegetables you are not only helping to keep yourself healthy, but you are also helping to keep the planet healthy.