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The Truth About Buying Organic: Is It Worth The Extra Cost?


The Truth About Buying Organic: Is It Worth The Extra Cost?

by Carolyn Burris

As we move into Summer, you can’t help but notice all the fruit and vegetable stands, farmer’s markets, and local fresh produce. However, as you make your selections, is it really worth buying organic? What is the difference between organic and conventional produce? And is organic really a better alternative?

Consider these points when deciding between conventionally-grown and organic foods.

Conventionally-grown produce has higher concentrations of glyphosate. One of the startling revelations of the food sensitivity test, a test for food, chemical, drug, and herb sensitivities, is the significant number of Forum Health Knoxville’ patients showing a positive reaction to the chemical glyphosate.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup Ready weed killer. One of the most widely-used weed killers in the world for crops and home gardens, it has been promoted as safe for both humans and the environment and effective in killing weeds. Recent studies, however, show Roundup is not as safe as its promoters claim.

One of these studies published in the journal Archives of Toxicology showed that there is no safe level of exposure to Roundup herbicide made for genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). According to the study, Roundup, which is applied by the tens of thousands of tons a year around the world, is still toxic to human DNA even when diluted to as little as 0.02 percent of the dilution amount at which it is currently applied to genetically modified (GM) food crops.

Numerous studies have already identified the fact that Roundup (glyphosate) causes DNA damage, endocrine disruption and cancer. But the above-mentioned study goes a step further showing that even at drastically diluted levels, glyphosate is still toxic to humans. Furthermore, the study also indicates that inhalation of the chemical may cause DNA damage in exposed individuals (think of breathing the fumes of Roundup as you spray your garden).

Despite the manufacturer’s claim that this herbicide is safe, Roundup is clearly an exceptionally toxic chemical that has no legitimate role in agriculture. According to data assembled by, Roundup is linked to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, imbalanced hormones in children, DNA damage, low testosterone, endocrine disruption, liver cancer, meningitis, infertility, skin cancer, kidney damage, and even uranium poisoning.

Roundup can also accumulate and persist in the soil for years, where it kills beneficial microbes and stimulates the dangers of increased virulence of pathogens. When applied to crops, glyphosate becomes systematic through the plant. It cannot wash off.

Once you eat the GM crops, the glyphosate ends up in your gut where it decimates the beneficial bacteria. This causes great compromise to your health as 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut and is dependent on a healthy ratio of good to bad bacteria.

Glyphosate is also a strong chelator, binding and making unavailable micronutrients in the plant. Thus, the nutritional value of the GM plants is significantly compromised. For example, iron, manganese and zinc can be reduced as much as 80 to 90 percent in the GM plants.

Currently, as much as 60 to 75 percent of the non-organic foods at your grocery store have GM ingredients. Furthermore, corn, soy, cotton, canola, and sugar (in nonorganic form) are the five ingredients most likely to be genetically engineered. If you can’t buy organic, then at least look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal. They test for GMOs, but not pesticide residues.

Organically grown produce is more nutrient-rich. Because organically-farmed fields are not doused with glyphosate, organic fields are full of beneficial soil bacteria that hinder pathogens in and on the food from multiplying out of control. This could explain why organic foods are less prone to contamination by disease-causing pathogens when compared to conventionally-grown foods. Growing crops in healthier soil results in products that are hardier and more nutritious.

There is also mounting evidence that organically grown fruits, vegetables and grains may offer more of certain nutrients like vitamin C, iron and magnesium and less exposure to nitrates and pesticide residues that conventionally grown products would have.

So, the next time you are at the market, will you consider organic foods? Enjoy this recipe that can be made with summer’s best organic ingredients.

Grilled Eggplant, Tomato, and Cheese Rounds

Makes 6-8 servings

Active Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium organic eggplant (3/4-1 pound), cut into 6-8 rounds about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole mineral salt, divided in half
  • 6 – 8 teaspoons prepared basil pesto
  • 2 medium organic tomatoes, cut into thin slices
  • 4 – 6 ounces mozzarella, cut into thin slices
  • 4 – 5 fresh basil leaves torn into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


  1. Preheat grill or oven to medium-high heat.
  2. Use 2 teaspoons of oil to brush both sides of eggplant slices; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  3. Grill or broil the eggplant slices for 5 minutes. Turn. Continue grilling/broiling until tender and marked with grill lines, 3 to 5 minutes more.
  4. Spread each eggplant slice with 1 teaspoon of pesto. Top with a slice of tomato, a slice of mozzarella and basil leaf.
  5. Drizzle vinegar and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over the towers; sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
  6. Bake on low in the oven or on grill in foil for 5-10 minutes until cheese is lightly melted. Remove and place on platter to serve.

Note: Use all organic products in this recipe, if possible.

This Nutrition Update is brought to you by Forum Health Knoxville. For more information about the Forum Health Knoxville’s approach to wellness, call 865-675-9355.

Carolyn Burris, an east Tennessee native, earned her Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Community and Public Health Nutrition at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her passion for helping those with nutritional needs brought her to Forum Health Knoxville. Carolyn particularly loves encouraging those struggling with food intolerance, obesity, fibromyalgia, and fatigue.


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