Organic food is admittedly more expensive and in some cases harder to find however some fruits and vegetables are more likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues and are worth buying organic. The main reason to choose locally grown organic produce is because we lower our risk of ingesting potentially harmful chemicals from pesticides and herbicides.
If life were ideal, we would consume food contaminated with as little pesticide as possible. Pesticides have been classified as probable carcinogens for 25 years and have been associated with different kinds of cancers in certain workers, although they are exposed to much higher levels than found on our food.
For example, researchers in Australia studied 13 volunteers who ate a conventional diet for one week and more than 80 percent organic foods for another week. Urinary levels of pesticides fell by 89 percent to 96 percent on the organic diet. In another study of a family of five in Sweden urine levels of pesticides fell by over 90 percent when the family’s diet shifted from conventional to organic, and the decrease was greatest in the children.
And according to the Environmental Working Group (an organisation of scientists, researchers) certain types of organic produce can reduce the amount of toxins you consume on a daily basis by as much as 80 percent.
The group put together two lists, “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15,” to help consumers know when they should buy organic and when it is unnecessary. These lists were compiled using data from the United States Department of Agriculture on the amount of pesticide residue found in non-organic fruits and vegetables after they had been washed.
The fruits and vegetables on “The Dirty Dozen” list, when conventionally grown, tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals, with some testing positive for as many as 67.
For produce on the “dirty” list, you should definitely go organic unless you like the idea of consuming a chemical cocktail.
Richard Wiles, senior vice president of policy for the Environmental Working Group explained why some types of produce are more prone to sucking up pesticides than others : “If you eat something like a pineapple or sweet corn, they have a protection defence because of the outer layer of skin. Not the same for strawberries and berries.”
Wiles adds, “You should do what you can do, but the idea you are going to wash pesticides off is a fantasy, you should still wash your produce because you will reduce pesticide exposure.”
Remember, the lists of dirty and clean produce were made after the produce was washed using high-power pressure water systems that most people don’t even have.
Here are six ‘dirtiest” produce that were on top of the list this year (2018) :
Strawberries rank number one for yet another year. One sample contained over 22 pesticide residues, with one-third of all samples showing 10 or more pesticides. Nearly 99 percent of the total samples had at least one pesticide.
Farmers typically use huge volumes of poisonous gases to sterilize their fields before planting, which has awful consequences when it comes to consuming this tasty berry. While some side effects of pesticide consumption may not prove as harmful as others, many of the chemicals used have been linked to cancer, neurological issues and hormone disruption.
So when it comes to strawberries just pay the extra bucks and buy organic, so you can eat your berries with confidence that you are eating pesticide-free!
Runner-up is spinach! Spinach was found to have a high a concentration of a neurotoxic insecticide, permethrin. This chemical has been linked to tremors and seizures. In total 97 percent of conventional spinach samples contained some sort of pesticide residues.
At a fairly low price in general it always buy organic spinach.
More than 99 percent of peaches studied in a sample were found to have pesticide residues. One of the residues was chlorpyrifos, the same pesticides found in bell peppers that can impact brain development in children. On average, four pesticide residues were continuously found on non-organic peaches.
With so many varieties of tomatoes, it’s shocking to hear that one sample of conventionally grown tomatoes contained 15 different pesticides and that on average four pesticides were used on a normal basis. The thin skin of a tomato means the pesticides are able to penetrate the fruit and that simply washing isn’t enough to keep chemicals away from your family.
5. Bell peppers
The USDA reports that nearly 90 percent of non-organic sweet bell pepper samples they analysedcontained pesticide residues. While they possessed fewer pesticide residues than other Dirty Dozen foods, the pesticides tend to be more toxic for our health overall. In particular, bell peppers tend to have higher levels of Chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic insecticide that has been found to negatively effect a child’s behaviour and brain development.
So when shopping for your favourite, green, yellow, orange and red peppers avoid some of the worst pesticides and go organic.
Non-organic potatoes tested in the study contained more pesticide residues by weight than any other crop. It was found that Chlorpropham, was the highest detected pesticide among all used on the crop, which has been linked to disruption in the body’s central nervous system.
Even the most careful washing cannot remove all pesticides, so be sure to shop organic on this one.
The full list contains 49 types of produce, rated on a scale of least to most pesticide residue.
You can check out the full list and download the shoppers guide from on the Environmental Working Group’s website at www.foodnews.org.