If you are thinking about buying organic foods, you may want to read my article first. Many people are choosing organic for their family’s health, but you may be buying more expensive foods in vain. Don’t get me wrong, organic foods are much better for the environment since there are stricter rules for production, handling, and processing; but as for the health benefits, for the most part, they are no safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced foods. For example, beef, poultry, eggs, and milk that are produced organically live under less-crowded conditions, which might reduce animal-to-animal transmission of disease-causing bacteria. But, on the other hand, there is no evidence that they are exposed to any less chemical contaminants or antibiotic residues than their non-organic counterparts. PCBs and dioxins are spread through the air and water, so there’s no reason to think they are less likely to settle on an organic farm than on a conventional one. Even worse, organic farms are equally as vulnerable since insects, birds, and other animals are also easy routes for invasion by pathogens. What does this all mean? Well, let’s define organic according to the US Department of Agriculture. “Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.” (source). So, if you are thinking about going organic, but don’t believe the hype completely, you may want to choose a few fruits or veggies that DO have proven higher pesticide residues. You can lower your pesticide exposure by up to 90% just by avoiding the worst offenders below. Here’s a list from best to worst for your next trip to the supermarket: WORST OFFENDERS Peaches Nectarines Apples Sweet Bell Peppers Celery Pears Strawberries Spinach Lettuce Potatoes Grapes (imported) Cherries MAY NEED SOME WASHING Carrots Green Beans Grapes Hot peppers Cucumbers Plums Raspberries Blueberries Tomatoes Cantaloupe Mushrooms Oranges Sweet Potatoes Watermelon Cauliflower CLEAN AS A WHISTLE Papaya Broccoli Cabbage Bananas Kiwi Avocado Sweet peas (frozen) Asparagus Mango Pineapples Sweet corn (frozen) Onions In conclusion, I am all for using renewable resources and conserving water and soil. I am also all for (even slightly) more humane treatment of animals and the use of fewer steroids and antibiotics. I must admit, I was buying organic milk and chicken because I actually thought both were free of this stuff. Reality is, there isn’t much of a difference in the actual food itself. So, do your shopping as you wish, wash your fruits and veggies well (organic or not), and whatever you do, YOU’RE BETTER OFF EATING FRUITS AND VEGGIES WITH PESTICIDES THAN NOT EATING THEM AT ALL! Happy shopping!
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