Throughout the history of the world, food has been grown using techniques described as organic. But in the last 100 years, conventional farming methods have increasingly relied on the use manufactured compounds such as pesticides and fertilizers, as well as using genetically modified seed. Organic fruits refer to produce grown using natural techniques with no chemicals or with only organic compounds.
Many countries have strict certification rules for labeling fruits and vegetables as organic. The United States, Canada and the European Union are some examples. In the United States, certification is outlined by the state departments of agriculture and conditions include no irradiation, no genetic modification, and most pesticides and fertilizers prohibited. The certification process can be quite costly, particularly for small farmers, which is partly why conventional fruit farming is still used by the majority of the growers.
Studies done on organically grown fruit have revealed several benefits in terms of nutrient content, flavor and shelf life. According to research, organic strawberries have higher levels of antioxidants and ascorbic acid. Their shelf life is longer and with certain varieties the flavor and sweetness was much better.
It is unfortunate that many organic products are more expensive (sometimes up to double in price) and less readily available than non-organic ones. Fortunately though, organic foods are now becoming more affordable as consumers are increasingly health conscious and searching for healthier food options.
Organic fruits can be found in many supermarkets and grocery stores, usually in a separate organic foods section. Open air farmer's markets are also another place to purchase them. Some individual small-scale farmers open up their orchards to members of the public to come and pick and purchase their own fruit for a small fee.
Other benefits of organic farming is that it's healthier for the environment, it reduces the emission of greenhouse gases that cause global warming, and it maintains the biodiversity of fruiting plants. In the latter case, many commercial farming systems have reduced our fruit options to just a few genetically modified varieties, meaning that many indigenous fruit species are in danger of going extinct.
Often times organic produce is grown by small, individual local farmers. Purchasing organic varieties helps to support local economies and reduce pollution caused when transporting fruits over long distances by road or air.
Organic fruit are not necessarily free of pesticides, however it seems that less of the toxins are retained in the body from organic varieties. Studies done on children have shown that the pesticide levels in the urine of youngsters who ate mainly organically grown produce was five to seven times less than for those who ate fruit grown using conventional farming techniques. This is good news for parents who buy fruit for their children and weaning babies.
Some fruit have a higher tendency for pesticide residue, for example strawberries, apples, grapes, peaches, pears, cherries and nectarines. If you're wondering which organic fruit varieties you should select first, then these are the ones. Fruits such as pineapples, papaya, avocados, bananas, kiwi and mangoes generally have minimal pesticide residues in comparison to the non-organic varieties.
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