By Rena Unger | May 17, 2011

Photo: Rena Unger

I am frequently asked “is it worth it to buy organic?” Without hesitation, my answer is always YES! Let’s examine the differences between organic and conventional produce:

Conventional produce is often:

Lower in Nutritional Value – crops are grown in depleted, chemically treated soil. Depleted soil = lower nutrients that can be passed along to plants.

Exposed to Toxic Poisons – crops are sprayed with poisonous herbicides, pesticides, insecticides and fungicides. These toxins grow with the plant and are integrated on a cellular level. They cannot be washed off! Many of these toxins have been linked to numerous symptoms including dizziness, nausea, migraines and numbness. Illnesses linked to toxins range from acute poisoning to death. Dangers are not subject to the crops themselves, these toxins are airborne and are contaminating our environment and the air we breathe.

Genetically Modified – introduced in the early 80’s, GM was approved for large scale agriculture in the 90’s. Food is genetically modified to withstand shipping and look appealing at the supermarket because it is prematurely harvested. Food may look better, but at what cost? With roughly 30 years in the market it’s hard to say how these scientifically altered foods are impacting our health.

Less Tasty – when crops are picked before they can fully ripen the flavor is compromised. Conventional food is often shipped across the country or from overseas, by the time we consume it, it has greatly deteriorated.

Chemically Stimulated and Treated - crops are designed to grow at a more rapid pace than nature intended and fail to have the opportunity to absorb the same mineral content if organically grown. To look appealing food is coated in chemical wax that cannot be completely removed before ingesting.

Organic produce is often:

Superior in Nutritional Value – studies have shown that organic produce contains anywhere between 50-83% more nutrients. For just a few cents more you can nearly double the nutritional value of the food you consume. The more nutrients you consume, the more satisfied we feel and the less we need to consume overall. MONEY SAVER!

More Expensive – BUT you are getting more vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and flavonoids. You need to eat less to fulfill your daily requirements. No supplements needed if you are enjoying a well balanced organic diet. Again MONEY SAVER!

Available Locally – local produce is picked when it is ripe, which provides a fresher, tastier and nutritious product. Less waste and more satisfying. Local farmers will get to know you and often make you a deal, or throw in extras here and there. Again MONEY SAVER!

Environmentally Supportive – by choosing organic, especially local, you are helping to minimize the toxins we breathe. In the end this will help reduce the toxins introduced into our bodies and foster better health, and less need for medical treatment. Again MONEY SAVER!

Require Less Cooking Preparation - B12 organisms live on the surface of organic produce. This is a very valuable vitamin that many are currently deficient in. Grown without harmful toxins, there is no need to peel organic produce, just rinse really well and take in all of that beneficial B12 that you might be currently buying in supplement form. Again MONEY SAVER!

Without knowing the facts, if you were to visually compare a conventional and organic apple, the conventional apple might win you over. Based on what we know about conventional methods, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Eat well!

Rena Unger -Holistic Nutrition Chef & Culinary Educator

If you would like to reach out to Rena Unger personally please click here.

Photo: Elliot Warren

Recipe by Elliott Warren

Elliott Warren

Dedicated in loving memory to Elliott Warren. Thank you for your friendship, sincerity, creativity, passion, and activism for sustainable organic food. Your memory will continue to live in our hearts and as the inspiration for the meals we create.

For Tofu:
  • Tofu
  • 1" piece of ginger
  • few cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup tamari
  • bay leaf or two
  • whole-wheat flour
  • cornmeal
For Salad:
  • lettuce
  • onions
  • cilantro
  • snap peas
  • rice noodles
  • sesame seeds
For Dressing:
  • sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp brown rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • toasted sesame oil
  • minced ginger
  • minced garlic
  • Sriracha sauce


I used the lettuce, onions, cilantro and snap peas from my box to make this salad. I don't really use recipes, but here's the procedure.

For the tofu, chop up a 1-inch piece of ginger, smash a few cloves of garlic and add it to 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup tamari, and toss in a bay leaf or two. Bring to a boil and throw in your tofu, simmering for 20 minutes. (Cooking your tofu in the marinade really enhances the flavor.) Let it cool, dredge your tofu in wholewheat flour and cornmeal, then pan-fry in sesame oil (not the toasted kind, and make sure the oil is hot)!

For the dressing, whisk together 3 T. olive oil, about 1 T. brown rice vinegar, about 1 T. tamari, a splash toasted sesame oil, minced ginger and garlic and a healthy squirt of Sriracha sauce. You can practice with the amounts - make it spicier, or maybe add some honey to make it sweeter.

Toss your veggies in the dressing, add some rice noodles on top, sprinkle with sesame seeds (the black ones are dramatic!), arrange the tofu. Voila!

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