Tuesday, February 9, 2010

When to go "Organic"

**Update: The list has been recently changed due to new studies. Check here for the most recent list: http://www.foodnews.org/EWG-shoppers-guide-download-final.pdf

Organic always seemed like such a marketing ploy for me, I mean do we really benefit from eating organically? On top of that, it is more expensive, and not always readily available. However, pesticides paralyze the nervous system of bugs that attack plants, so one would guess that it could have similar effects on humans when consumed in greater quantities. These pesticides are often sprayed multiple times over the life of the plant and can penetrate the outer shell, or skin of many of the fruits and vegetables we regularly consume.

Even if you don't home garden or shop exclusively organically, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has issued a list of the top 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the highest pesticides when brought to the market, they call them the dirty dozen.

Therefore these are foods you should consider buying organically or growing yourself:
In order of most residue to less
1. peaches
2. apples (just think about how many of these we eat in a week?)
3. bell peppers
4. celery
5. nectarines
6. strawberries
7. cherries
8. kale
9. lettuce
10. imported grapes
11. carrots
12. pears

Even by pealing the skin, studies have found pesticides penetrating the insides of some of these fruits, and in the case of the peach, they found traces of pesticides all the way to the pit!

EWG also issued a list called the clean 15, which contains the top 15 fruits and vegetables that contain the lowest levels of pesticides because of their ability to withstand absorption and because many of these do not require pesticides to be grown successfully.

In order of least residue to more
1. potatoes
2. avocados
3. sweet corn
4. pineapples
5. mangoes
6. asparagus
7. sweet peas
8. kiwi
9. cabbages
10. eggplants
11. papayas
12. watermelons
13. broccoli
14. tomotoes
15. sweet potatoes

As suggested on EWG's site, keep this list handy at the grocery store (you can download the PDF off their cite below or download the iPhone app with the list on it) and I suggest if you plan to grow a garden, consider the list as well. I know it has persuaded me to grow more peppers and lettuce and to try to start buying my apples and strawberries at a farm or farmers market


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