Posted by Linda Bonvie
August 27, 2013
It’s a question you may well have asked yourself when shopping for fruits and veggies: which are the most important ones to buy organic?
Unless you spend all you time tending an organic garden or live in an area that has a robust organic farmers market, it’s likely that organic foods only make their way into your diet here and there. But some types of produce are so routinely contaminated with pesticides, and so often consumed by kids, that the only advisable way to buy them is organically grown.
For the 9th year in a row the Washington D.C.-based Environmental Working Group has issued it’s “Dirty Dozen” most contaminated produce lineup and its “Clean Fifteen” list of commodities with the smallest pesticide residues. Based on USDA and Food and Drug Administration pesticide-analysis data of more than 28,000 samples, the list is an easy way to purge the worst pesticide-plagued offenders from your diet.
Here are the top five from the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list, along with some of the reasons we think you should spring for the organic versions. (see the full list plus two extra crops here):
This is a real shame, as apples have high levels of anti-inflammatory flavonoids that are concentrated in the peel. If apples made the top of the list, that means conventional applesauce and apple juice can’t be far behind.
Strawberry fields are a hotbed for pesticide and fungicide use, including fumigation of the soil prior to planting. Another bonus for organically-grown varieties: studies have shown them to be significantly higher in antioxidants. If that’s enough for you to cross conventional strawberries off your shopping list, you might also think about buying organic strawberry jam and jellies.
If you were compiling a list of the healthiest foods on the planet, grapes would be a top contender. Unfortunately they also make the top of the EWG Dirty Dozen list. The good news is that organic grapes are easily available, so there’s no reason to stop buying this amazing fruit. You should also consider trying organic wine and making the switch to organic grape jelly.
Celery has been near the top of the EWG’s list for several years, and many experts say to absolutely avoid conventionally grown celery.
What could be a finer treat than a juicy, tree-ripened peach on a summer day? Not only are peaches amazingly delicious, but they are great sources of vitamin A, potassium, zinc and vitamin C. If you can find good-quality organically grown peaches don’t pass them by.
Rodale, publishers of Organic Gardening and a host of other “healthy living” publications, also adds bread to the “don’t buy conventional” list, noting that wheat, rye and other grains are “commonly sprayed with insecticides to keep the bugs away, particularly a class called organophosphates, which have been linked to IQ problems and ADHD in children.”
(For that same reason, Rodale also recommends that you consume only organic cereals and snack foods, such as pretzels and crackers, made from grains.)
The benefits you get from organically grown commodities go beyond the fact that you are ingesting fewer toxic pesticides. Organic farmers don’t raise chickens on a diet of antibiotics, drugs and caffeine; organic fruits and vegetables contain an average of 30 percent more antioxidants; organic agriculture helps preserve the integrity of groundwater, fosters sustainable farming practices and the preservation of nutrient-rich soil, and, as an extra bonus, organic processed foods contain no HFCS!