We get a variety of messages in our society today about the foods we eat. Every week, there seems to be something new on the horizon that we are supposed to try, or that will make us perfect, healthy, or skinny in 6 weeks or less. The term “organic” is one of those terms that is used strategically for marketing but should be carefully considered when buying fruits and vegetables. We will continue to discuss organic meats and how to choose them in future articles, but this one will focus mainly on fruits and vegetables and which ones it is important to buy organic when we can.
Now we are all just doing the best we can, so remember that this article is to give you good information so you can make the best choices possible for your needs and your budget.
- Pesticide residue and chemicals – When you see “organic” on a fruit or vegetable, it means that it has been grown, processed, and handled according to a strict set of guidelines that ensure it contains no toxic chemicals. The allowable amount of pesticide residue allowed on our fruits and vegetables is regulated by our government, but here’s the catch. The regulations only govern each individual chemical, but not the overall load of the chemicals combined. That means, conventional produce only has to meet government standards for chemical residue on each individual chemical.
- No GMO’s – Organic products cannot contain GMO’s. Genetically modified organisms are another subject receiving a great deal of press these days. Genetically modified organisms are animals or plants that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. Although GMO’s are recognized as safe by FDA standards, they are banned in more than 60 countries, including Australia, Japan, and all the countries of the European Union. Many studies have linked them to allergies, digestive problems, and other serious health issues. For more information, I would encourage you to rent GENETIC ROULETTE. It is a fascinating documentary that you can rent on Amazon. With that in mind, it is important that we be mindful when purchasing conventional produce.
It is difficult and confusing to tell when buying produce whether or not it is produced using GMO’s, so buying organic whenever possible is a good idea. Small changes matter, so try to start with one or two of the staples that you eat most often. You don’t have to eat organic everything to make a difference.
Check out the list of the most commonly high pesticide foods, called the “dirty dozen”. These are the foods to put highest on your priority list when making the switch.
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Nectarines- imported
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Hot Peppers
Two that have been added and are considered “dirty dozen plus”
- Summer Squash
- Leafy Greens (kale and collards in particular)
Below is the “clean 15” list which contains the foods found to have the lowest pesticide residues. When buying organic, these are lower on the priority list.
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas- frozen
- Sweet Potato
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- Take a look at the lists above. Pick one or two from the “dirty dozen” list to start buying organic if you can. If you are unable to buy organic, make sure you rinse your vegetables well and scrub them before you cook them.