Organic oranges and commercial oranges might look the same, but they do have some big differences. The first you might note is the price, with organic oranges priced higher than their non-organic counterparts. You can determine if the higher price is worth it by realizing what it takes to produce an organic orange juxtaposed against the potentially high cost of commercial oranges on the environment.
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Organic oranges grow on certified organic orchards which use no growth hormones or chemicals. Rather than chemical pesticides, organic growers rely on beneficial birds and insects to control pests and disease. They use natural compost and manure as fertilizer instead of chemicals to encourage growth and never use chemical herbicides or fungicides.
Although commercial oranges are exposed to a wide range of chemicals, the chemicals don’t reach the inside of the orange. The peel acts as a natural barrier and, as long as you don’t eat the peel or use it in recipes, you won’t ingest the chemicals that coat the outside of the orange. Organic oranges have the same nutritional values and calories as commercial oranges. A small orange contains 45 calories, 1 gram of protein, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber and 9 grams of sugar. It is also loaded with vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium, potassium and vitamins C and A.
Pesticides may not reach the meat of the orange and affect your personal health, but they do leak into the environment. Princeton University reports only one percent of chemical pesticides actually targets the pests for which they are intended, while the other 99 percent makes its merry way into the environment. Chemical contamination from pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers affects groundwater, soil and wildlife.
Proof of organic certification is often noted by the presence of a green and white USDA Organic sticker. The organic sticker means the oranges have met the strict standards overseeing the growth, harvesting and handling of the fruit. Organic stickers, however, are voluntary, although many growers choose to use them. Other terms, such as “naturally grown,” are not synonymous with organic and don’t mean much since they have no regulations to meet.