Posted By: CustomVite Nutrition Team Date: May 1, 2017 Comments: 0
If you’re like me, you may find yourself in the produce aisle each week facing a dilemma. On one hand, you have organic produce, grown without chemicals, and pesticides, but costing sometimes twice as much. On the other hand, you have the same produce grown conventionally that looks the same (and often times better), providing the same vitamins and fiber, and is also free of fat, sodium and cholesterol. As I stand there debating, a little voice inside me is saying, “how could you possibly feed your children anything but organic? Why would you expose them to unnecessary chemicals and pesticides?” Meanwhile, another voice (that sounds a lot like my husband’s) is saying, “you have a budget to stick to and the conventional produce is still good for them and better than eating cookies and donuts right?” So what’s a health and budget-conscious mom to do? Is it necessary to buy organic all the time?
It turns out the answer is, maybe not. Instead experts say the key is to just prioritize and focus on buying a few key organic foods. A good rule of thumb is if you’re going to eat the skin, consider organics. But if you can peel the fruit or vegetable (i.e. bananas, citrus fruits, cantaloupe) and thus peel away the pesticides and chemicals, it’s really not worth the extra money.
Another tool to help you choose is The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization who recently released its latest “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” list for 2017. The list reveals the fruits and vegetables that have the highest and least amount of pesticide residues, analyzed from USDA data. Since organic foods can be pricy, the “Dirty Dozen” is meant to help consumers decide which organic fruits and vegetables are worth the extra money. The “Dirty Dozen” list for 2017 includes strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and potatoes. According to the EWG, choosing organic versions of the “dirty dozen” can help limit exposure to pesticides.
On the other hand, the “Clean Fifteen” list includes sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit. This is the list of produce least likely to contain pesticide residues and is probably not necessary to buy organic.
But just remember, if you cannot afford to purchase organic all the time, eating more fruits and vegetables is the point, and you should not avoid eating fruits and vegetables altogether. Experts agree that the health benefits from eating fruits and vegetables far outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Taking a few extra precautions like carefully washing and scrubbing fruits and vegetables can minimize chemical ingestion.
(1) EWG. (n.d.). EWG’s 2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Retrieved March 30, 2017, from https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php
(2) Is Buying Organic Worth It? – Columbia University Medical … (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2017, from http://www.bing.com/cr?IG=423D8C64ABF24D96AC9FCA567ED4D008&CID=052DE86837B66FE72A7DE23D36876E31&rd=1&h=Hb6UowVdS2gid3PTUbW3-vWftZdrY2OVwIbFo9k6Ei4&v=1&r=http%3a%2f%2fnewsroom.cumc.columbia.edu%2fblog%2f2013%2f05%2f31%2forganic-or-not%2f&p=DevEx,5063.1
(3) Organic foods: Are they safer? More nutritious? (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/organic-food/art-20043880
(4) Smith-Spangler, C., Brandeau, M. L., Hunter, G. E., Bavinger, J. C., Pearson, M., Eschbach, P. J., Bravata, D. M. (2012). Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives? Annals of Internal Medicine, 157(5), 348. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-157-5-201209040-00007
(5) Zelman, K. M. (n.d.). Organic Food — Is ‘Natural’ Worth the Extra Cost? Retrieved March 30, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/organic-food-is-natural-worth-the-extra-cost