Much of the benefit of purchasing and eating organic foods stems from the significantly lessened exposure to dangerous and unnatural chemicals: pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, and antibiotics to mention a few. If you’re not able to afford purchasing 100% organic every time that you go shopping, you can still drastically reduce the quantity of chemicals (up to 80% according to the Environmental Working Group) that you are subjected to by buying the organic versions of the most highly contaminated products. Eating the 15 most vulnerable foods, for instance, results in an average exposure to about 10 different pesticides, while eating the 15 less common and less vulnerable foods averages about 2.
Here’s a quick list of foods to remember next time you go shopping, so you spend your money on organic varieties of just the most crucial items to restrict exposure and maximize the benefit to your health.
The pesticides that people consume daily in contaminated food is known to be found in the breast milk of nursing mothers. Commercial cows resides on a similarly contaminated food source of pesticide-treated corn, so it’s only common sense that their milk will be heavily laced with chemical residue also. As many as 12 different pesticides are identified in milk. Organic livestock can only be fed organic feed, which efficiently eliminates exposure and prevents transference into the milk.
Celery has no protective outer skin, which makes it especially vulnerable to the compounds it’s doused with (residue from as many as 64 found in 2010) while growing and almost impossible to remove them through just washing. If you can not find organic celery, less contaminated alternatives are radishes, broccoli and onions.
Bell peppers, such as many varieties of peppers, have thin skins and can be vulnerable to a lot of different pests. Some safe alternatives are cabbage, green peas and broccoli.
Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, romaine, red and green leaf lettuce are also highly susceptible to toxic chemicals, even though kale is widely known as being hardier and less vulnerable to pests. Alternatives include cauliflower, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli.
Peaches and nectarines are another high ranker using a thin, fragile skin; the residue of 62 different chemicals were detected on peaches in 2009. Apples rank similarly high, with studies demonstrating that scrubbing as well as peeling does not completely remove all traces of pesticides. (Peeling removes a number of the nutrients anyway.) Good alternatives to these two are watermelon, oranges, bananas and tangerines.
Berries are not treated any more kindly than other fruits, with over 50 chemical residues found on both berries and blueberries. Strawberries especially, which are commonly grown from season in different countries that possibly have more lenient pesticide restrictions. Safe, delicious alternatives are kiwis and pineapples.
This list is by no means comprehensive; there are other highly contaminated fruits and veggies (such as carrots, carrots and spuds) that are perhaps slightly less contaminated than those listed here, but still better to purchase organic when possible. This article is enough to get you started though; an additional source is the Environmental Working Group’s yearly publication of the “dirty dozen” most contaminated foods based on testing conducted for every year.
This article is part of a continuing series entitled “Transitioning to Organic” that provides tips, information and easy ways to adopt all or some organic food into your lifestyle.
CB is a longtime generator of online content and an experienced journalist, and as of right now writes on topics including Logitech x540 and Logitech x 4 speaker system.