RobardUser Robard Corporation | Health and Money

Organic Food: Pesticides vs. Your Budget


In an increasingly health-conscious society, buzz words about healthy eating are rampant, and consumers are being constantly overwhelmed with information about what kinds of foods are healthier and why. This is definitely the case when it comes to organic. Today, organic options are not only found at specialty stores such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s; they can now be found in your local ShopRite or Acme.

But while much of the hype around organic is about nutritional value, organic produce actually has not been shown to be that much better for you. Rather, the real concerns when it comes to organic versus conventional food are two main safety issues: chemical contamination and bacterial contamination.

Focusing on chemical contamination, countless studies have shown that exposure to pesticide residue was more than five times higher in conventional food than in organic food (38 percent versus 7 percent), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are traces of 29 different pesticides in the average American’s body. While the long-term health risks of pesticides remain unclear and controversial, a recent Consumer Reports survey of 1,050 people found that pesticides are a concern for 85 percent of Americans. And let’s be honest, we’ve only recently begun to understand and experience the tragic effects of DDT (one of the first pesticides) on the environment and on humans, which have included breast and other cancers, male infertility, miscarriages and low birth weight, developmental delay, and liver damage.

While health is of course a concern, the average consumer is also worried about how to stretch a tight grocery budget. According to Consumer Reports, the price of organic produce can be on average 49 percent more than non-organic options, which really add up by the time you get to the register.

So what is a smart, health-conscious shopper on a budget to do?

Well, when it comes to produce specifically, not all non-organic options pose as much of a threat to consumers. If you can’t afford to go full organic, experts suggest choosing organic for the foods containing the highest amount of chemical residue, and choosing conventional foods for those with the least residue. Foods that absorb the least amount of residue are generally those with thick skins that are not consumed, such as onions, avocados, and bananas.

When it comes to chemical and pesticide exposure, certain fruits and vegetables have a reputation for being more egregious offenders. Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) singles out produce with the highest pesticide loads for its Dirty Dozen™ list. In being a more health-conscious, but strategic shopper, refer to the Dirty Dozen™ list for items you should always try to buy organic, and go the non-organic route for the other items that didn’t make the list. See the graphic below for a full list of the Dirty Dozen™ to help guide you in your organic shopping journeys!


(Image courtesy of Environmental Working Group)

For which foods did you make the switch to organic? Share on Facebook!


Sources:
Consumer Reports, Columbia University Medical Center, Environmental Working Group


Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation


Read More >>

Can a 'Fat Tax' Lead to Better Food Choices?



When we have to make a choice between two or more foods certain things may determine our decision: Which one do we think tastes better? Which one fits our diet? More times than not, the choice comes down to which items cost less — whether subconsciously or intentionally.

Low income consumers in particular are looking for the best priced products. They also tend to be the most susceptible to obesity. However, even the smallest of price differences can sway the consumer to purchase the product. What does this have to do with weight management and obesity? In two words: “Fat Tax.”

Fat Tax is a theory that adding additional charges on unhealthy food and drinks may help slow the rising rates of obesity. To test the validity of the tax’s effects, researchers conducted a study consisting of data spanning over six years and 1,700 nationwide supermarkets.

The focal point of the research was milk and its varying prices. At some stores there was no price differentiation of milk across all fat content; however, at some stores, the milk was priced higher based on contents of fat. Therefore, whole milk was the most expensive and skim milk was the cheapest.

How did the price range effect milk sales? The slightest difference of 14 cents showed substantial deviation from the higher fat options to the lower-fat options, particularly in lower income areas. Even though the results were significant, it still may not indicate how effective a Fat Tax would fare. More measured assurances about how the tax would perform are needed before it is implemented.

“The general perception is that these taxes need to be substantial, at least 20 percent and often as high as 50 percent, to have meaningful impact,” says Vishal Singh of New York University. “Here, we have compelling field-based evidence that such taxes don’t need to be high to be effective.”

He may have a point. The price shift of the items was minimal (as much as 10 percent), and yet the difference in what was sold considerable, and performed best in low income areas where obesity is at its highest risk.

What do you think about a Fat Tax? Do you think it’s something that should be implemented in America?

Source: Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

Blog written by Marcus Miller/Robard Corporation


Read More >>

The "Hidden Cost" of Obesity


Read More >>