Eat Organic

It is a rude awakening that eating fruits and vegetables on a daily basis may not guarantee good health. There is a world of difference between eating organic and non-organic processed foods.  Even if you prepare seemingly nutritious food for your family, you could be serving up sides of organophosphate and chlorinated pesticides to go with that broccoli. In the United States, conventional food is grown using over 4 billion pounds of pesticides annually.

When you eat conventionally grown produce, you are also consuming pesticide residues. Pesticides have been linked to a variety of chronic health diseases including brain and nervous system disorders; cancer; hormone disruption in diabetes; thyroid dysfunction; obesity; and eye, skin and lung irritation. Pesticides are toxic by design. They are used to kill insects, plants and fungi. Humans are also vulnerable to the toxic effects of pesticides.

Certified by the USDA, organically grown food is produced without the use of synthetic pesticides, genetic engineering, and radiation or sewer sludge. When you buy certified organic labeled products, you are getting food that is 70% organic. This means it is relatively free from antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, etc. It also means that you are supporting a natural ecosystem, protecting wildlife and our water resources. It means that you are increasing the productivity of the land, as well.

The USDA and FDA measure pesticide residues on produce and list them according to their toxic load–from most toxic to least toxic. The highest pesticide residues are found on the fruits and vegetables listed below, also known as “The Dirty Dozen”.

The Dirty Dozen:

  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Blueberries (domestic)
  • Kale/Collards
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Bell peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Lettuce

Organic food typically costs more than their conventionally grown counterparts. If you can’t afford to buy organic produce, try to avoid the “dirty dozen” (unless organically grown) and you will dramatically reduce your exposure to the harmful effects of pesticides. If your access to organic food is limited, ask your local grocer to stock organic versions of the “dirty dozen”.

Conventionally grown produce with the lowest pesticide residues is known as the “clean 15”.

The Clean 15:

  • Sweet peas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Eggplant
  • Cantaloupe (domestic)
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Onions
  • Pineapple
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Corn
  • Avocado

Wallet size printable versions and smart phones apps that list the “dirty dozen” and “clean 15” are available at Environmental Working Group.

Eating organic food positively affects not only your own health, but your family’s health and the health of farm workers. Even if you are not a vegetarian, it is important to eat organic red meat, eggs and poultry. These foods, along with non-organic strawberries, apples and some grains, are heavily concentrated with hormones, pesticides and a host of other harmful toxins to your body.

Did you know that 78% of poultry inspectors do not eat poultry? This is because of the non-sanitary and inhumane conditions that poultry are raised in, effecting the flesh and eggs of the animal, dramatically. However, the organic labeling laws are changing. 

Organic processing is more costly for the producer, and many unscrupulous companies are lobbying to allow a higher percentage of non-organic ingredients into the contents of legally labeled “certified organic” products. Industry groups are lobbying Congress to change the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 so that artificial ingredients and synthetic substances can be included in foods labeled “organic.”

Follow the efforts for food labeling at Just Label it.

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