There are many questions that come to mind when shopping for organic foods. And a recent study suggests that we should choose organic foods over conventional ones. But, what do all the labels mean? Why is it so expensive? Are they really more nutritious? Don’t let these questions scare you away from a nutritious path. Below, we explore some of the many benefits you get from eating organic.

1.   Organic Foods Lower Exposure To Pesticides

When children are young, they are especially vulnerable to chemical exposure while their brains are developing. However, eating entirely organic can be expensive, especially if you are on a budget. It’s important to pick your battles and spend wisely on organic products that are known to have fewer pesticides. The Daily Green put together a list of foods you don’t have to buy organic and are less likely to have pesticides on them after a typical washing.

2.   Organic Food Is More Sustainableorganic food

Especially if grown locally, organic food is much more sustainable to the environment. The National Organic Standards Board defines organic agriculture as “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity.” However, organic and sustainable farming don’t always go hand in hand. If you’re truly looking to take the most sustainable route, try to support your local farmers; the food doesn’t require nearly as much costly transportation as “organic” food produced in Mexico.

3.   Organic Food Contains No Food additives

Food additives are used to “replace the nutritional value and taste lost in processing, enhance the texture or appearance, prolong shelf life, stop food from decaying, replace ‘real’ ingredients to enhance flavor, giving extra taste to otherwise bland products and to make junk foods more appealing.” Does that sound like something you want sitting in you, or your child’s, body? The use of food additives is restricted in organic food. Even if you can’t buy entirely organic, remember to read ingredient labels closely. If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.

4.   Greater Antioxidant Value

Several studies have found that organic foods generally contain higher levels of antioxidants and certain micronutrients, such as vitamin C, zinc and iron. “Organic farming doesn’t use nitrogenous fertilizers; as a result, plants respond by activating their own defense mechanisms, increasing the levels of all antioxidants.” Antioxidants have many health benefits, such as preventing cancer and a stronger immune system.

5.   You are what you eat.

Last but not least, we all probably already know we should avoid the dollar menu and eat foods with more color, but it bears repeating.  Eating a variety of foods supplies our bodies with a variety of nutrients we so desperately need. Think about what (and how much) you are eating – as well as where it came from. Conscious eating is both good for our bodies and the world we live in.

Navigating the world of organic food can be confusing. Even if you are pinching your pennies, eating organic doesn’t have to break the bank.  Many large grocery chains now offer abundant organic choices at competitive prices. And by supporting local, sustainable and organic farms in your community, you also help the environment (as well as local businesses).