Research has shown that there isn’t a nutritional difference between organic foods and conventionally raised food, according to Dr. Ruth MacDonald, chair and professor of Department of Foods Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University (ISU).

The biggest difference between organic and organic is how the food is grown and raised. To qualify for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “organic” label, the food must be grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, although natural pesticides are allowed.

Also, organic foods can’t be made from genetically modified ingredients. However, it’s important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) confirms the safety of genetically modified foods before they enter the marketplace.

In essence, whether or not you purchase organic foods is a matter of personal choice. Organic foods are typically more expensive than conventionally raised foods, so they may not fit into everyone’s budget.

If your resolution is to eat healthier or lose weight in 2016, a good goal is to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, no matter if the produce is organic, conventionally raised, canned, frozen or dried.

Erin Good, a registered dietitian for Hy-Vee in Waukee, recommends shopping the outside aisles – the produce, meat and dairy sections – of the grocery store first.

“Then in the middle aisles, look for your staples – grains, oatmeal, maybe brown rice or an ancient grain-type blend, peanut butter, canned beans and spices to flavor your foods,” Good says.

ISU’s MacDonald and other nutrition experts take a closer look at organic foods and health at the Best Food Facts website.

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