There is a lot of confusion out there when it comes to the word “organic”, regarding our fruits and vegetables. Since organic food is being discussed in the media a lot more lately, people are getting a better understanding of what it actually means. However, there are still a lot of people confused on if they were to buy organic fruits and vegetables which ones they should buy. I often get asked these questions:
- What does organic mean?
- Should I buy everything organic?
- What do you buy organic?
I thought I would take some time to answer these questions for you and hopefully help you make some decisions for yourself, and the food you put into your body.
Let’s start with defining what organic means so we are all on the same page. When I personally talk about organic food I primarily mean “clean food” – food that was grown without antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides and hormones. While the USDA says that as well, they also include a little more information in their definition that I wanted to be sure you had the opportunity to read.
According to the USDA , “Organic crops are raised without using most conventional pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers. Animals raised on an organic operation must be fed organic feed and given access to the outdoors. They are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. The National Organic Program regulations prohibit the use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, and sewage sludge in organic production and handling. As a general rule, all natural (non-synthetic) substances are allowed in organic production and all synthetic substances are prohibited.”
“Should I buy everything organic”?
When I get asked this question, I always suggest that you have to do what works for you and your family and I provide them with a link or a list from The Environmental Working Group Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization that works to protect public health and our environment through public information. They have a team of scientist, engineers, lawyers, computer programmers who are all advocates in finding solutions to threats that jeopardize our health or environment.
Each year the Environmental Working Group publishes a Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce ,which is a result of analyzing pesticide residue testing data from the USDA & FDA. The rankings that they provide come from analyzing government data.
The EWG shopper’s guide is what I use to help determine what I buy organic.
You can lower your pesticide in-take by using their list when buying your fruits and vegetables. To be sure we are all on the same page as to the definition of pesticide, the World English Dictionary’s definition is, “a chemical used for killing pests, esp insects and rodents”.
The Environmental Working Group takes the most popular 53 fruits and vegetables and breaks down the list into the twelve most contaminated, and the list of the fifteen fruits and veggies that are the cleanest and have the least amount of pesticides. If you are interested in learning about the methodology of how they determine this information you can get that here. While I am going to share only the top 5 contaminated and cleanest produce, I encourage you to look at the full list and print it off so you are familiar with it. Get the full list here.
These are the top 5 most contaminated fruits and vegetables according to the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce and the ones that I would suggest to buy organic (get full list here):
These are the 5 lowest in pesticide residue fruits and vegetables according to the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce and I will often buy these conventional. (get full list here):
- Sweet Corn
Please note that most conventional sweet corn contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs) so if you are at all concerned about GMOs then purchase organic sweet corn.
I realize that organic food is often higher in price, but with the demand increasing for more organic food, I am noticing that the price on some items is going down. Sometimes an organic item is only several cents more and I have even seen it less than its conventional counterpart believe it or not. So whether you decide to buy organic produce or not, I think it is important for you to know this information about the pesticide residue so that you can be more informed about what you are putting in your body.