Organic: To Be or Not To Be?
One of the most perplexing questions for even an accustomed grocery shopper is whether or not organic produce is worth the extra dollar. Organic foods offer a number of benefits, including lower pesticide exposure and a lessened environmental impact. In all honesty, buying organic can be expensive but you can get the most out of your next shopping trip by prioritizing which foods you should purchase organic.
Each year, The Environmental Working Group releases an annual dirty dozen list, which includes foods that you should buy organic. The group analyzes data about pesticide residue and ranks foods based on how much or little the samples have. It is important to note that some crops face high numbers of fungus and insect threats, therefore prompting farmers to use more pesticides.
Often times, a cocktail of pesticide residues remain on the food after we purchase them and when we consume them, doesn’t that sound yummy?
Find out some of the worst pesticide residue culprits below! The list contains a culmination of the most recent dirty dozen list along with some additions.
Apples consistently rank near the top of the annual dirty dozen list. More than 45 different pesticides have been detected on apples, with 99% of samples testing positive for at least one! In addition, pesticide residue has been found in apple juice and applesauce, suggesting that one should consider purchasing organic apple products.
Strawberries are always on the list due to their high number of fungus threats, leading to more than 40 different pesticide residues. However, it has been found that fewer residues are found on frozen strawberries.
Celery, again is found on the list every year as there have been more than 60 different pesticides found.
Grapes are always found on the list and have been found to have more than 50 different pesticide resides. Raisins have been found to have similar levels of residue.
Peaches frequently make the list as more than 60 different pesticide residues have been found. 98% of the samples tested positive for at least one. In addition, imported nectaries, in contrast to domestic, are among the most highly contaminated fruits. They have been found to have approximately 33 pesticides residues, with 97% of samples testing positive for at least one.
Spinach is often times the leader of the leafy greens category, with more than 50 different pesticides. It has been found that frozen spinach contains nearly as many, while canned spinach has fewer.
Bell peppers in each of the colorful varieties usually make the list with nearly 50 different pesticides.
Cucumbers are one of the greatest offenders with as many as 86 different pesticides on the skin. Peeling the skin off can reduce the chance of ingesting the residues.
Potatoes have more pesticides by weight than any other product. Sweet potatoes offer a great alternative with less pesticides.
Coffee is commonly grown in countries with minimal to no regulations on the use of pesticides. To ensure the coffee beans have not been grown or processed with potentially harmful chemicals, look for the USDA organic label.
Milk has been found to have four different pesticides, amongst other man made chemicals.
Beef has shown a strong connection between some of the hormones given to the cattle and cancer in humans.
While this list seems to contain many of the fruits and vegetables that we consume on a regular basis, there are a number that are considered safe to purchase non organic.
Avocados have a thick peel that protects the flesh from absorbing harmful chemicals. Although, it is important to wash the skin before cutting in to it.
Onions grow underground, protecting it from the threat of pests thus lessening the need for harmful chemicals. Nearly 98% of samples were pesticide free.
Pineapples contain a tough skin that keeps the fruit from absorbing chemicals.
Sweet corn, either fresh or frozen, has been found to have no detectible chemicals on nearly all the samples tested.
Cabbage is naturally resilient to bugs, therefore making it low in pesticides. The outer leaves work to shield the inner leaves from toxic sprays so be sure that you discard of them.
Papayas and mangos usually test low for pesticides due to their thick, inedible peel. Residue is commonly found on the outside of the food, therefore peeling would remove a majority of them.
Kiwi can attribute their low pesticide levels to their ouster skin. Although the skin is edible, it is suggested that you discard of it to prevent ingesting pesticide residue.
Asparagus faces few insect and disease threats, therefore fewer pesticides need to be used.
Bananas, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit and eggplant have been shown to have low pesticide levels due to their thick outer skin. It is important to clean the skin before cutting into it to reduce the chance of contamination.
*No fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen (The Environmental Working Groups list of commonly consumed produce with the lowest amount of pesticides) tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides.
**Only 5.5% of Clean Fifteen samples have two or more pesticides.