The health benefits of organic fruits are so vast that once fully considered, everyone should purchase only certified organic fruits. Our bodies, communities, and earth need the nutritional profile that only organic land stewardship can produce. Concerns about synthetic pesticide and herbicide residues, genetically modified organisms, toxic water runoff from inefficient irrigation systems and excessive synthetic fertilizer applications, bee and beneficial insect collapse, soil erosion and deterioration, and toxic chemical uptake in root systems from contaminated soil are all reasons to choose certified organic fruits.
The Health Benefits for Our Bodies
Nutrition & safety study
What evidence do we have that there are health benefits in organic fruit? Four meta-analyses began in 2009 in the UK to study the differences in the nutritional quality and safety of organic versus conventional food. After publishing the fourth study in 2014 in the British Journal of Nutrition that included WSU researcher Charles Benbrook, three findings showed significant benefits of eating organic plant-based foods.
- Two of the four meta-analyses showed pesticide residues are about 4 to 5 fold more common in conventional food
- 50% lower level of cadmium in organic
- Two of the four meta-analyses showed 20% – 40% higher levels of antioxidant polyphenols in organic.
The bottom line is, “How farmers farmed their plants helps determine the nutritional profile of the food harvested from them.” Baranski M. published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
In the same way, how farmers weed their crops helps determine the herbicide residue on the food harvested from them. Since Monsanto (the world’s largest seed company) engineered Roundup Ready Genetically Modified Organism, GMO (now referred to as Genetically Engineered GE) crops to survive the direct application of glyphosate (the primary ingredient in Roundup), 90% of US corn is now a GE crop. That means 90% of the corn the US produces is regularly directly sprayed with glyphosate (Roundup) for weed control. Glyphosate is the world’s most heavily used herbicide, and in 2015 it was classified as a probable carcinogen by the world’s leading cancer authority, IARC International Agency for Research on Cancer. The best way to ensure you are not consuming products sprayed with glyphosate is to buy certified organic.
Protecting young children
Often families with young children prefer to buy certified organic. This is because small human bodies are more susceptible to pesticide and herbicide residues on conventional fruit since they have a greater intake of air and food relative to their body weight. In addition, according to research published in Environmental Health Perspectives, young infants and toddlers exposed to herbicides within their first year of life are 4.5 times more likely to develop asthma by the age of five and almost 2.5 times more likely when exposed to pesticides. In addition, breastfeeding women and women planning to become pregnant may wish to eat only organic fruits and vegetables to avoid the potential risk of pesticide residue and its impact on the developing brain, according to a study published January 14, 2,020, at Europe PMC.
Protecting the general population
But what about the older population? According to JAMA Internal Medicine, in the general population, low-level pesticide exposure is widespread through diet since residues of potentially harmful pesticides are in 70% of nonorganic food sold in the US. Moreover, more than 90% of the population in the United States has detectable pesticides in their urine and blood. The good news is that several peer-reviewed studies and clinical trials show the measurement of pesticides decreases very quickly when people switch to an entirely organic diet. This is because organic foods are produced without synthetic pesticides and are less likely to contain pesticide residues than conventionally produced, nonorganic foods.
Suppose you want to learn more about chemical residues in food. In that case, the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list is an excellent resource. What does that mean for produce listed on the Dirty Dozen list? The top twelve listed produce are the worst for pesticide exposure. Unfortunately, nine of the top twelve 2022 “Dirty Dozen” are fruit: strawberries, nectarines, apples, grapes, bell peppers, cherries, peaches, pears, and tomatoes. Blueberries are number fourteen on the list. In summary, eating organic fruit is a health benefit.
The Health Benefits for Our Communities
Protecting our community and lake
Our organic fruit farm above Lake Chelan, Washington, promotes a healthy agricultural ecosystem that protects our community and pristine lake. In addition, the land and lake surrounding our community benefit from the orchard management practices required for our organic certification. Our best practices include caring for our soil health and biodiversity of plants, animals, insects, and microbes, integrated pest management with an emphasis on biological control using natural products, and water conservation to prevent runoff and soil erosion. The result of our farming practices means we’re certified Salmon Safe.
Protecting our workers
What about the health benefits for our workers who live in our community and those that travel from Mexico as guest workers? After reviewing 40 years of science comparing the long-term prospects of organic and conventional farming, John Reganold, WSU professor, concludes that organic agriculture comes ahead when providing jobs for workers and reducing farmworkers’ exposure to pesticides and other chemicals. In addition, many organic certification programs also have well-being goals for farm workers.
Protecting our local economy
Well-being is also a result of the health benefits our organic fruit provides for consumers in our local community and its economy. Since we provide local jobs and sell our organic fruit directly to consumers, restaurants, and local businesses, this is good for everyone.
The Health Benefits for Our Earth
Removing carbon dioxide
As houses continue to replace agricultural land around the hillsides of our community and pristine lake, our farm keeps our land in agriculture. Most people would agree that a pastoral view is more pleasant than a housing development, and the trees benefit our earth’s health. According to aborday.org, as trees grow, they help stop climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. In addition, our fruit trees provide many benefits to us every day. They offer cooling shade, block cold winter winds, attract birds and wildlife, purify our air, prevent soil erosion, clean our water, and add grace and beauty to our surrounding hillsides.
Saving fossil fuels
Since conventional farming depends on earth-based non-renewable resources such as natural gas that are converted into synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, it is one of the significant contributors to greenhouse gases. Industrialized agriculture, also called the green revolution, occurred from the effort to feed the world. The intensive use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, and machinery failed because we now know it’s not sustainable. Soil that is farmed with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is more of a growing medium than a source of fertility. Over time, as farmers need more synthetic fertilizers, the soil becomes more depleted and susceptible to erosion and disease. If we want to use fewer non-renewable resources and feed the estimated population of 10 billion by 2050, we need to care for our soil organically.
Vote with your dollars & shop organic
What are the health benefits of organic fruit? As a small-scale organic farmer and master gardener, I’ve experienced these benefits from several perspectives: personal health, community, and the earth. In addition, I’ve witnessed how these health benefits outweigh the extra effort and cost involved in meeting the requirements for organic certification and are why we farm organically. Choosing organic fruit goes beyond the individual; it includes the workers, the environment, and the earth. We hope to simplify this for you as our farm offers farm to door organic fruits. We want you to enjoy the health benefits of organic strawberries, cherries, blueberries and apples.
Awesome article! I couldn’t have said it better myself.