Is it important to eat organic fruits and vegetables?
It may seem as though it just a new trendy way to eat and shop. Considering that it is often more expensive the question is an important one. However, there are a few very important reasons to consider always eating certain foods grown organically. It is also encouraging to know that there are fruits and vegetables that if washed properly, don’t necessarily need to be organic in order to be safe and healthy.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health. They have been spreading the word about a really useful tool – the Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The 2012 version is based on the results of pesticide tests performed on produce and collected by federal agencies between 2000 and 2010. Nearly all of the data used took into account how people typically wash and prepare produce - for example, apples were washed and bananas peeled before testing. The following "Dirty Dozen Plus" had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy organic versions:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Blueberries (domestic)
The EWG points out that there is a growing consensus in the scientific and medical communities that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during vulnerable periods such as fetal development and childhood. Also keep in mind that pesticide and herbicide use contaminates groundwater, ruins soil structures and promotes erosion, and may be a contributor to "colony collapse disorder," the sudden and mysterious die-off of pollinating honeybees that threatens the American food supply. Buying or growing organic food is good for the health of the planet.
There are however foods that you don’t have to buy organic. Of the fruit and vegetable categories tested, the following "Clean 15" foods had the lowest pesticide load, and consequently are the safest conventionally grown crops to consume from the standpoint of pesticide contamination:
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas
- Cantaloupe (domestic)
- Sweet potatoes
So buy organically where it’s important and when you can always be sure to wash your vegetables and fruits thoroughly. The most important part is that you do in fact eat your fruits and vegetables and enjoy them!