Did your organic produce travel 5,000 miles for your eating pleasure?
The natural sweetness of the red bell pepper makes it one of my favorite vegetables. I recently needed some for a cooking demo. The price wasn’t one I would normally pay—I prefer to buy when they’re $1 or less each. Love them, just not that much.
Anyway, they were $1.50 per pepper. Pricey still but not too bad, plus they were huge and beautiful. I happened to walk by the organic section and saw these weeny red bell peppers at $2.19 each. As often happens curiosity got the best of me and I looked to see where they originated.
That annoying little sticker
The cool thing about produce is that little sticker—you know the annoying one you sometimes forget to remove. However, its information is invaluable providing an identifying number and country of origin.
Hmmm, where did this red bell pepper originate I wondered? Where was it grown?
Distance from Dallas about 5,000 miles.
The pepper I bought had a country of origin—Mexico, less than 900 miles away.
The question: Pay $2.19 for a red bell pepper grown 5,000 miles away or $1.50 for one conventionally grown less than 900 miles away?
If organic produce is your thing…
When you choose organic, consider why. Is it the:
- Environment? What’s the carbon footprint, the energy needed to transport your produce? Many organically sourced fruits and vegetables travel a good distance. What’s better? Locally but conventionally grown? Or organic sourced thousands of miles away?
- Nutrition? How much nutritional value is lost in the transport? Furthermore, there is little substantive research indicating organic has a higher nutritional value.
- Pesticides? Newsflash. Organic produce uses pesticides. The organic seal does not mean pesticide-free. Pesticides made from plants are used as well as several synthetic ones.
- Higher prices? Okay. You got me on that one! With a few rare exceptions, you will pay more, see here.
Does a hungry person care if their produce is organic?
Here’s the thing—I’m a realist. Having spent nearly seven years early in my nutrition career working as a clinical dietitian at the county hospital, all I wanted some of my patients do was eat one fruit or one vegetable—per day. Just one! I would have settled for one a week in some instances.
The myriad of studies on health benefits of fruits and vegetables are not based on organically grown produce. ?
Eat your veggies. I’ll wait.
P.S. The organic red bell pepper was not nearly as tasty as the others.
Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach
@JenniferNeily Twitter | @NeilyonNutrition Instagram
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Photo credits: Neily on Nutrition and pixabay.com