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Family Nutrition


Organic Fruit: An “A-peeling” Topic

There are a lot of nasty things that can be avoided if you buy organic fruit even though organic fruit may be misshapen and ugly. On the other hand, non-organic fruit can be pretty but you could be munching on a fungicide, herbicide, insecticide or pesticide. We’re not taking “cides” here -- just trying to save you a few pennies by knowing when to buy organic, and when you can skip it.


Organic v. Non-Organic Fruit
One of the nice things about non-organic fruit is that it is reliably uniform. The fruit ripens at the same time, so when it gets to the store it’s all the same size and color. It doesn’t have the occasional worm hole. It isn’t lumpy. And it’s less expensive.

On the other hand, that pretty fruit can contain the fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and pesticides previously mentioned. A Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) study tested for 44 pesticides and found nearly all of them in the urine and blood of those tested. In fact, the chemicals found in DDT, which hasn’t been used since 1972, were found in 99% of those tested. The level to which these chemicals are harmful is being debated.

The good news is that you can buy organic when it makes sense and buy non-organic when it isn’t necessary.

When can you skip the organic fruit? When you don’t eat the peel!
Think about it. When was the last time you ate a banana peel? Or a cantaloupe rind? There are several fruits where you can safely buy non-organic, because the nasty stuff is on the peel – which you don’t eat.
The non-organic fruit you can safely eat includes:
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Grapefruits
  • Melons
  • Oranges
  • Pineapples
There are also veggies that have a high sulfur content, which keeps the insects away so insecticides aren’t used. If you want to go non-organic with onions and garlic, go right ahead!

Organic – Healthy – Natural – What’s the Difference?
Label reading can be confusing. A “100% Natural” food product could be simply awful in terms of chemicals or additives, and you won’t know that unless you read the ingredients in the fine print. Here’s what the words mean according to the agencies that regulate them:
  • Organic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has an organic certification program covering how the food is grown, handled and processed. If a product is labeled “organic” it is at least 95% organic. Look for the USDA sticker. Without the sticker it may not be organic.
  • Natural. This word is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To be natural, a food cannot contain synthetic or artificial ingredients such as sodium benzoate, sodium nitrite, propyl gallate (propyl 3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoate), potassium bromate and monosodium glutamate (MSG). If you can’t pronounce it – don’t eat it.
  • Healthy. This word covers a lot of territory and is also regulated by the FDA. It only means that the food has limited amounts of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It also must contain a specific minimum amount of vitamins, minerals and other good stuff the body needs.
If you think about the labels, this means a food could be healthy, although neither natural nor organic. Or vice versa. For example, ice cream could be organic and natural, but due to its high fat content, would not be considered healthy. And an avocado could be both organic and natural, but due to its high fat content, would not be a healthy choice if eaten in excess.

Just remember that if it has a thick skin that you won’t be eating, you can skip organic and save money by eating the perfectly formed and sized non-organic fruit.





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