Choosing Organic Foods for Your Dogs and Household

At Hemopet, we encourage companion dog parents to give certain fruits and vegetables as treats to their 4-legged family household members. You can give them raw, lightly steamed, or dehydrated. We simply ask that you don’t purchase or make any with added salt, butter or sugar. It’s a relatively easy and inexpensive way to add more whole foods that are minimally- or un- processed to your dog’s diet. We also suggest you purchase organic foods — specifically organic fruits and vegetables. 

Do you think you read an oxymoron? Inexpensive and organic? Well, yes, it is true that organic foods are generally more expensive than nonorganic foods. This is because organic farming is more costly. 

We get your perspective. Usually organic foods can be several dollars more than non-organic and on a monthly basis this can add up to several hundred dollars based upon your household size. We understand you have to balance economics and lifelong health. So, why buy organic at all? 

Purchasing organic fruits and vegetables is not an all or nothing proposition. At the bare minimum, please follow the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists. The Dirty Dozen simply means you should always purchase this list of a dozen foods as organic because they have less pesticides and herbicides compared to their conventional cousins. The Clean Fifteen is a list of foods you can feel OK purchasing as non-organic. 

If you looked over the Dirty Dozen foods, you are probably thinking that organic apples are $2-$3/pound more than non-organic. Plus, one pound of apples is usually a couple of small ones or one large one. We suggest searching around your local food cooperative and regular grocery store. The vast majority of food cooperatives only carry organic fruits and vegetables. Plus, they can be less expensive than, or competitive with, the typical grocery store in terms of pricing. In fact, one of Hemopet’s employees purchased a package of organic strawberries on sale at her food cooperative for only $2.99. The regular grocery store priced the same item by the same producer at $4.99 that week. 

Another complaint we have heard about organic fruits and vegetables is that they can go bad faster. Personally, we actually find them fresher and more flavorful. However, we can see this perspective because organic food can spoil faster without the chemicals added, and it may sit on the shelf longer than conventional food due to price. We actually think this problem is fading. Why? More people are purchasing organic than they used to. Thus, the turnover is picking up.

More Nutritious

This is often a point of contention amongst researchers. Even around 2010, the prevailing evidence suggested that there was no difference nutritionally between organic and non-organic foods. However, the growing body of evidence is proving differently. 

At a macronutrient level – protein, fat, carbohydrate, and dietary fiber – measurable differences have not been found yet. But, overall, organic foods have increased antioxidant concentrations in the crop-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, more omega-3 fatty acids in dairy products, and more beneficial fatty acid profiles in meat. In fact, the compositional differences between organic and non-organic foods may have a positive effect on certain nutrient and micronutrients in the plasma and tissues.

Pesticides and Fertilizers

It is definitely PROVEN that organic foods have minimal or no synthetic pesticide residue, and no synthetic fertilizers to meet United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) certification for organic food. Certain synthetic and natural pesticides may be used if organic producers need to do so, which requires them to work with their certifier to use one of the only few approved synthetic or natural pesticides.

Remember, even the Environmental Protection Agency states on its website, “The health effects of pesticides depend on the type of pesticide. Some, such as the organophosphates and carbamates, affect the nervous system. Others may irritate the skin or eyes. Some pesticides may be carcinogens (cancer causing agents). Others may affect the hormone or endocrine system in the body.”

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is the most practical, natural pest control method because it interrupts insect life cycles and suppresses soil-borne plant diseases. Plus, it can prevent soil erosion and fix nitrogen in the soil. Think about it this way: plants need nitrogen to grow, but excessive nitrogen runoff leads to dead zones in oceans. So, crop rotation fixes many problems at once! 

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