Wednesday, June 13, 2012
People can't always buy organic for a variety of reasons: The local store may have limited supplies, they lack variety or cost is a consideration. But whatever the reason—or excuse—shoppers should be aware that some produce at the grocery store is more pesticide-laden than others.
Every year, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group tests all manner of produce for pesticides and chemicals to compile its list of the "Dirty Dozen," and "Clean 15" foods. By using the list to choose the foods to buy organically, EWG says consumers can substantially lower their pesticide intake.
You would be surprised at the level of pesticide contamination found in common, conventionally grown food. According to EWG:
• Every sample of imported nectarines tested positive for pesticides, followed by apples (97.8 percent) and imported plums (97.2 percent).
• 92 percent of apples contained two or more pesticide residues‚ followed by imported nectarines (90.8 percent) and peaches (85.6 percent).
• Some 96 percent of all celery samples tested positive for pesticides, followed by cilantro (92.9 percent) and potatoes (91.4 percent).
• Nearly 90 percent of celery samples contained multiple pesticides, followed by cilantro (70.1 percent) and sweet bell peppers (69.4 percent).
• Hot peppers had been treated with as many as 97 pesticides, followed by cucumbers (68) and greens (66).
If that doesn't underscore the need to "buy organic," I don't know what does. You might want to clip this out and keep it with you for handy reference when you go shopping.
According to EWG, if you choose five servings a day from the "Clean 15" instead of the "Dirty Dozen," you can lower the volume of pesticide you consume daily by 92 percent. You'll also eat fewer types of pesticides. Picking five from the "Dirty Dozen" would cause you to consume an average of 14 different pesticides a day, the EWG states. If you choose five servings from the "Clean 15," you'll consume fewer than two pesticides per day.
Additionally, because genetically modified, or GMO, seeds are more often used in conventionally raised corn, and the United States (unlike other countries) does not require GMO labeling, EWG recommends consumers only buy organic sweet corn; GMO seeds are banned in organic growing.
For more information, including a printable "Clean 15/Dirty Dozen" wallet card, visit http://www.ewg.org/foodnews.
The Clean 15
These are the lowest in contamination; if you must buy commercially raised products, stick to this list.
2. Sweet Corn
6. Sweet peas
9. Cantaloupes, domestic
13. Sweet potatoes
The Dirty Dozen
Always buy these foods grown organically to avoid pesticide intake.
6. Nectarines, imported
7. Grapes, imported
8. Sweet bell peppers
10. Blueberries, domestic (These are grown locally in Mississippi; ask your farmer.)
12. Kale/collard greens
Jim PathFinder Ewing is the author of five books on energy medicine and eco-spirituality (Findhorn Press) published in English, French, German, Russian and Japanese. His next book, to be published in the fall, is titled "Conscious Food: Sustainable Growth, Spiritual Eating." Find Jim on Facebook, follow him @edibleprayers or visit http://www.blueskywaters.com.
"When it comes to produce, buying organic means not buying chemicals and pesticides with your food." Incorrect. Organic simply means that the pesticides are natural and not created synthetically.
"People can't always buy organic for a variety of reasons: The local store may have limited supplies, they lack variety or cost is a consideration. But whatever the reason—or excuse—shoppers should be aware that some produce at the grocery store is more pesticide-laden than others." The author intentionally comes off as antagonistic by throwing the word "excuse" in there. Why is that necessary? What does that even mean? You give excuses for eating a candy bar instead of an apple. You don't have to have an excuse to not buy a piece of organic fruit that is smaller than normal and goes bad quicker. It's not like people are on the corner jonesing for pesticides. It's just simple economics for most. How about talking about the disparities in the availability of not just organic, but at the very least, fresh produce all over this country along class and race lines. Let's talk about food deserts. Is not having enough money to buy produce at jacked up prices (which are jacked up because that's what the suburban shoppers are willing to pay, thus keeping it out of the reach of us commoners) at a store you can't get to because of lack of transportation a good "excuse" for not buying organic? A lot of people don't buy into the organic thing because they don't want to end up sounding like a pretentious know it all telling everyone else how to eat. I'd rather eat a few pesticides than be insufferable.
A lot of people don’t buy into the organic thing because they don’t want to end up sounding like a pretentious know it all telling everyone else how to eat. I’d rather eat a few pesticides than be insufferable. Then, why be insufferable in your response? ;-) If you're this against someone who is very knowledgeable about organics—and is a delightful person and writer—writing about his passion (organics) and sharing information with others because you think people who "buy into the organic thing" are "pretentious," then why don't you choose not to read those pieces? I don't get taking time to spew such negativity in response. Come on. Life is too short for this kind of ad hominem just because you don't like the "organic thing."
I'll also add that I've tried to use the EWG's "dirty dozen" list for years to help me decide where to put my limited funds when I'm making organics decisions. And as someone who has suffered mightily from an illness (fibroids: an epidemic for Mississippi women) that medical researchers believe is caused by pesticide intake and other xenoestrogens in our chemical-laden environment, I am fully bought into the "organic thing." At least do some real homework because you go around flinging insults. A sample of the kinds of xenoestrogen research you might find. Much more out there. Breast Cancer: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1519851/ Dangers to children: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10188197 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713509002242 http://www.cancerprev.org/Journal/Issues/24/101/301/3799 http://www.thestrongroup.org/media/Effect-of-Herbicides-on-Sexual-Development-of-Males.pdf http://joe.endocrinology-journals.org/content/196/2/399.full And here's the wikipedia page for xenoestrogen. Wikpedia is what it is, but I advise clicking on the list of resources at the bottom to learn more about this important area of research. What's remarkable to me is that people get so enslaved to convenience and corporate food consumption that they get angry about the inconvenient truth, to borrow from Al Gore and friends, that all these chemicals and pesticides may be at least partly behind the horrible health problems in our state and beyond. Cheaper is not always better. One of the ways that Todd and I were able to start spending more for organic food was by stopping eating meat. It's funny to watch people in the grocery story line perfectly willing to pay dearly for big hunks of steak (or boxes of junk food), but who freak out that an apple costs a bit more at Rainbow.