A Fresh Look at Organic Produce

Whether consumers buy organic or conventional (also called non-organic) produce or not, there are always two sides to every fruit or vegetable’s story.

A common misconception consumers have about eating organically grown produce is that the health benefits outweigh conventionally grown foods, but food and horticulture experts say there are other factors that are actually more important.

(Organic Produce Video/shoch7@uga.edu)

Since 1990, organic produce sales have annually increased by 20 percent. With the continual influx of fresh produce being consumed, there has also been a rise in food borne illnesses that have been associated with organically grown produce. A lot of people think that organic foods are chemical-free, but that is not true, there are a number of chemicals used, says Lewis.

Description of commonly used pesticides on organic farms. (infographic/shoch7@uga.edu)

To combat future food borne illnesses, Harrison frequently visits smaller farms to deliver education materials on safer farming techniques.

“The basic overview of what we tell farmers they need to do is not so different from what’s included in the Produce Safety Rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act, it’s just on a smaller scale.”

This can include routine testing of the water and manure (commonly used on organic farms), and properly sanitizing facilities and keeping up with personal hygiene, says Harrison.

All of it done for one purpose — to help consumers stay healthy.

By: Shannon Hochschild

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