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Is organic food better for our beauty?


It’s Organic September 🙂 I’ve written so many things on here over the last few years about organic beauty and why I like to use it, personally and professionally, that I didn’t want to repeat myself! (I have re-used an image :)) So while I was thinking about what to write, I did some clearing out of stuff and came across a little booklet called “Organic versus Non-organic. A new evaluation of nutritional difference crops” A collaboration between the Soil Association and Neal’s Yard Remedies, the booklet talks about a study from 2014 that compared the nutritional value of crops grown organically and those grown non-organically. It really is an interesting read.

The study from the British Journal of Nutrition found that –

“organically grown crops – e.g fruit, vegetables and cereals – contain significantly higher concentrations of nutritionally desirable antioxidants and lower levels of undesirable cadmium (a toxic heavy metal) and pesticide residues.”

“A switch to consuming organic crops would allow a 20-40% (and for some compounds up to a 70%) increase in antioxidant/(poly)phenolic consumption without an increase in calorie intake.”

organic food and organic beauty

So how is that relevant to a beauty blog? Well, antioxidants are major players in keeping our skin healthy. They are actually major players in keeping every part of us healthy. Antioxidants are at the forefront of the battle with free radicals – I’m sure most of you have heard of these pesky little things that can damage our cells. Our bodies actually produce free radicals, indeed things like exercising can produce a few of them too – kept in check and they are not actually all bad. It is when they go out of balance due to things like smoking, pollution, UV damage and pesticides to name a few culprits, that the trouble starts. Signs of free radical damage to our skin can be things like age spots, wrinkles and inflammation. Antioxidants will neutralise free radicals and help to prevent them from causing damage. So when it comes to our skin, if it is a fresh, glowing complexion you are after, then consuming lots of antioxidants is very important.

According to the booklet –

“Switching to organic crop consumption is equivalent to eating one or two additional portions of fruit or vegetables per day.”

It can be quite hard to fit in lots of fruit and veg some days, so if eating organic means more nutrition than brilliant. I do try and buy organic as much as I can. I have a regular box from Riverford, I find these really good value and they offer free delivery. I also try and visit local markets and of course I buy from supermarkets. The organic choice now is brilliant – although most are packaged in ridiculous amounts of plastic which is so frustrating!! I did write to Waitrose about it as they seem to be one of the worst which surprises me – you can’t buy anything organic loose in there. Their answer was if they didn’t package the organic, then they would have to package the non-organic….grr…

2020 UPDATE – I’ve come across some new studies that show the differences between organic and non-organic food. Here are some stats via the Soil Association including the above study but also one that suggests organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products. Also a new US based study showing pesticide levels reduced by 70% after following an organic diet for 6 days which is quite remarkable.

As much as I would like to, I don’t buy every single thing organic. Sometimes it simply isn’t available and sometimes I don’t have the budget – organic is generally more expensive, it’s true (but for good reasons). So it is about making the right choices… The Environmental Working Group release a list each year about what produce they have found to have the most pesticide residue, and what they find to be the ‘cleanest’. This is with the aim to help consumers make the right choices when doing their shopping. Their lists do get criticised and some suggest that the lists will scare people and then they will eat even fewer fruit and veg, which I guess could happen. The lists are also US based so might not be so relevant here in the UK, however we all need to eat more fresh food so need to use anything like this to our advantage. I do use the lists to help my shopping a bit – for example I don’t buy organic avocados (I know avocados come with other sustainability issues) and will always try and buy organic red peppers, grapes and apples.

Anyway here are the lists if you fancy a look…

2020 Update and list

I think it makes sense that different produce will have varying levels of pesticides and such – certain fruit for example are prone to more diseases or pests so therefore would be sprayed or treated with more pesticides. To have some kind of guideline when choosing what to buy is quite helpful – I think that is the key with these lists – let them guide you rather than dictate.

What is clear is that we all need to eat lots and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables to be healthy, and of course have radiant glowing skin. If you can go organic then amazing, if you can only get a few bits then that is great too. Supporting any kind of organic farming is going to be beneficial to the environment but also to our health.

What do you think about the list? Do you eat organic? Do you think it makes a difference to how you feel?

  1. Interesting about the dirty / clean 12 – thanks for this info!

    I just love the knowledge that when I feed my kids on organic food, they’re getting the best possible start in life. Also, having suffered with rosacea for some years, I definitely feel it helps keeps toxins out of my system, when I eat organic, and that has a direct effect on my skin. It’s worth paying a little extra and eating a little less!

    1. Thanks Ellie! That’s really interesting to know about how you feel eating organic effects your skin – and your kids – I agree it is so important if we can for the little ones. Yes so true – pay a little more and eat a little less – very good mantra! xx

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