The Environmental Working Group recently released the 2013 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ and the “Dirty Dozen” list was again expanded to 14 foods. The Clean Fifteen was also updated with watermelons being removed from the list.
One of the main reasons for choosing to eat organic is to lower one’s exposure to pesticide residues.
Researchers from Stanford University found organic produce has a 30% lower risk of pesticide contamination. Additionally, they found that organically farmed chicken and pork contain lower levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
- Organic farming uses 45 percent less energy, produces 40 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, and supports healthy soil.
- Purchase fruits and vegetables when they are in season and buying organic does not have to be expensive.
- Farmers markets and community-supported agriculture (CSA) groups are great ways to get good priced in-season produce.
Most of the ingredients do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides, genetic engineering, sewage sludge, antibiotics, irradiation in production. At least 95% (by weight) of ingredients must meet these guidelines.
Organic is applied to foods grown without:
- Conventional pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer
- Hormones and antibiotics
“Organic” Food Labels
Organic sticker or label on organic foods with only one ingredient (fruits, vegetables, milk, meats)
Organic label when food has 2 or more ingredients, indicates 95-99% of ingredients are organic
100% Organic label, the product contains only organic ingredients
Made with Organic Ingredients, indicates 70-94% ingredients are organic
Fruits and Vegetables to Buy Organic
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Hot Peppers
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Kale/ Collard Greens
- Summer Squash
“Clean” Fruits and Vegetables
Organic does cost a bit more than conventional, but with some produce the cost of organic may not outweigh the benefits. These 15 conventionally grown fruits and vegetables have been found to be grown with the least amount of pesticides:
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas-Frozen
- Sweet Potatoes
You can visit the Environmental Working Group‘s site to download a copy of the Clean and Dirty Lists to your smart phone.
4 Tips to Reduce Pesticides on Produce
To minimize you risk of pesticide exposure utilize the following tips:
- Throughly wash fruits and vegetables.
- Use a brush to scrub any residue off produce when washing.
- Peel skin off the foods listed under Dirty Dozen
- Toss outer leaves of greens
Additional Foods to Purchase Organic
Meat: organic meat does not contain added hormones or antibiotics
Milk: organic milk is derived from cows not given growth hormones
Keep in mind that Organic does not necessarily mean a food or product is healthier. Organic processed foods (cookies, chips, etc) still have empty calories and still requires consumption in moderation.
The many health benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables definitely outweigh the exposure to pesticides. Whether cost influences your purchasing habits so not, throughly wash or scrub all produce.