Are organic apricot kernels better than non-organic?
This question is one that I'm asked frequently as a religious user of organic produce. If you're not likely to read this whole blog post, the short answer is, no. Now go and buy yourself some non-organic apricot kernels. Just make sure they're very bitter! Or skip ahead within this entry.
In order to answer this question thoroughly and effectively, we need to look at the primary reason for using the apricot kernels. Are they being used nutritionally or therapeutically? Let's explore.
I am often accused of being a fanatic about certain things - nutrition has been no exception. In almost all cases of fruit and vegetables, I passionately advise people to go the organic route wherever possible. Very unfortunately for many, cost often presents a barrier that is difficult to overcome, as organic produce can be very expensive relative to non-organic. However - don't be disheartened. If you can't afford organic produce, keep reading. The situation can be much improved without taking the leap.
There are two very different reasons for choosing organic over non-organic fruit and vegetables. The first reason is mineral content. Conventionally grown produce almost always lacks the trace mineral content of its organic counterpart. The reason for this is that minerals are found in the soil and imparted to the produce grown within it, unlike vitamins which are produced by the plant itself. Organic status has no bearing on vitamin content. The difference lies in the principles used in the farming method.
Conventional crops (those grown with the use of chemicals) often strip the soil of its mineral content through over-farming. The same crops are often grown year after year after year, each cycle stripping what minerals the soil has to offer. Organic farming principles, on the other hand, generally involve crop rotation with periods of resting and rejuvenation, which allows the ground to recuperate and replenish.
(This post isn't about trace minerals so I'm not going to go into great detail, but I will say that they are critical to health. You should be educated about them and I urge you to go off and do some research upon completion of this entry.)
The second reason for choosing organic over non-organic is pesticides and other chemical residues. In conventional farming, pesticides and other chemicals are used to protect, encourage and preserve crops - and, ultimately, to return a better dollar. The damage caused by crop pests results in massive yield and financial losses. These losses are built into the prices of organic foods, which is why organic produce is often so expensive, relatively speaking. These chemicals, however, can be very detrimental to our health, contributing significantly to countless disease states, such as cancer, and any number of other ailments of severity.
For those who can't afford organic, all is not lost. Though it's not perfect, the worst of these chemicals can be washed from your food. Very thorough washing should be practiced before consumption, and the benefit will be produce that is largely free of these residues. Though I won't say the two become equals, the situation has improved considerably. As for trace minerals - these can be supplemented 100% effectively. Whether found in your food or in a high quality supplement, your body will be none-the-wiser. There are many trace mineral supplements available. These trace minerals generally come from ancient soil deposits of fulvic acid. Search for organic colloidal minerals or fulvic acid. The health benefits are too numerous to go into here.
So - why are you using apricot kernels? Most people are using apricot kernels for their amygdalin (vitamin B17) content. If this is the case for you, organic status has no bearing on amygdalin content. Not only that, but apricot stones are a very hard-shelled seed - almost more of a nut in this regard. The kernel is enclosed within its very own fortress. The kernel, being at the center of the fruit and within the protection of this very hard, thick enclosure, is entirely protected from chemical sprays and insect treatments. These chemicals never come into contact with the kernel. Some sellers of "organic" apricot kernels attempt to justify their price by wrongly suggesting that their non-organic counterparts contain concentrations of pesticides. This is a myth.
Almonds, which are very close cousins of apricot kernels, are different in their whole structure. Where apricot kernels are very well protected from contaminants, almonds are not. Almonds aren't enclosed within a fruit and their shells are very soft and absorbent. The result, unfortunately, is that they take on chemical sprays quite readily. Comparisons can't be made between the two.
Ultimately, your choice of kernel should be the most bitter (most amygdalin) kernel available to you. If it happens to be organic, fine, but don't look for organic thinking that you're getting a better option. You're simply not. Not only do they not contain more amygdalin, they are often of sweeter varieties of apricot kernel, such as those grown through India and Pakistan.