Organic fruit and vegetable sales have grown to 11.4 percent of total produce sales in recent years, according to the Organic Trade Association. Organic vegetables are often more expensive to buy but are perceived as being healthier, safer to eat and worth the additional cost. Many people grow their organic fruits and vegetables at home to avoid high market costs. Growing organically is easy and the benefits of organic vegetables are numerous.
Pesticide- and Nitrate-Free
Organic vegetables contain significantly lower amounts of nitrates and toxic chemical substances such as pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, according to the French Agency for Food Safety study conducted in 2009 by Denis Lairon. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reported that pesticides can cause health problems such as nerve damage, cancer and birth defects. Families reduce their exposure to these health problems by eating organic vegetables. Pesticide exposure is a greater health risk for children because their internal organs are still developing and maturing and they cannot assimilate harmful chemicals.
Flavinoid levels in organic tomatoes are 79 percent higher than in non-organically grown tomatoes. Flavinoids are a nutrient component that creates antioxidants, which are a cancer preventative. Antioxidants strengthen the immune system.The nutrient content of organic soil continues to grow each year that it is managed organically, increasing the nutrient value of food grown there. Choosing organically grown foods was recently encouraged by The President's Cancer Panel as a way to reduce cancer risk.
Safe Growing Practices
Organic growing is part of sustainable agricultural practices. Sustainable agriculture benefits environmental health, protects natural resources and contributes to economic and social equity. Growing and eating organic vegetables is one way to contribute to the global efforts toward green living and planetary health. Nitrate overload from chemical fertilizers is one of the main contributors to environmental pollution problems. Programs such as the University of California's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program provide education on methods of organic growing for farmers who want to transition away from chemically based agriculture.There are many city and county resources for workshops about organic growing and composting.