Healthier, fresher, more eco-friendly—organic produce has become popular for a reason. The growing fear of toxic pesticides—which have been linked to cancer, behavioral disorders, and birth & developmental effects—is a factor, too, making more people question how their food is grown and where it comes from. Because washing/rinsing only reduces but does not eliminate pesticide residue from produce, it’s time to seriously consider going organic.
By U.S. regulations, “organic” produce must be grown without synthetic pesticides (naturally sourced pesticides are OK!), chemical-based fertilizers, artificial preservatives, and without GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). The resulting produce is of a much higher quality, but it’s often much more expensive. But don’t let that prevent you from choosing safer, more nutritional food for you and your family. In truth, You don’t have to go entirely organic to reap the benefits of organic produce. Just as some produce should always be purchased organic due to its high toxicity, some conventionally-grown produce can still be eaten without fear of pesticides or other ill effects. Here’s 12 items you should always buy organic (and 15 you really don’t have to).
(Don’t forget: Organic or not, you should always thoroughly wash & rinse all produce!)
The Envrionmental Working Group (EWG) evaluates pesticide usage and its efects on produce each year. For their latest findings, visit their website.
Always Buy These Organic:
The Environmental Working Group's latest findings indicate that Strawberries are the absolute worst fruit or vegetable in terms of pesticide toxicity. The EWG’s stats show that on average over 300 lbs. of pesticides are used on each acre of non-organic strawberry fields. To make matters worse, strawberries are the most difficult fruit or veggie to adequately rinse, since all those little pits double as pesticide-trapping reservoirs.
Spinach is a highly nutritional alternative to lettuce or cabbage. However, unless you’re buying organic, spinach can also be harmful to your health. The EWG ranks this vegetable as the second most pesticide-covered fruit or veggie for 2017. Furthermore, according to the EWG, Spinach has on average twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.
They might be a sweet, tart and refreshing summer snack, but non-organic Nectarines contain several of the most dangerous pesticides in the world. Nectarines are #3 on the EWG’s most pesticide-ridden produce list for 2017.
Apples are the fourth most pesticide-contaminated fruit or vegetable in 2017 according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that monitors pesticide usage in the U.S. The average non-organic apple contains up to 48 different pesticides. According to information collected from the USDA, even after thorough washing, 98% of all apples still contain at least one toxic pesticide.
Peaches clock in at #5 on the EWG’s most pesticide-laden fruit and veggies list. Like strawberries, apples and spinach, 98% of all peaches—even after washing—contain at least 1 harmful pesticide.
On average, non-organically grown pears contain at least 40 known pesticides—8 are probable carcinogens, 7 are neurotoxins, 11 are suspected hormone disruptors, and 5 are thought to cause reproductive or developmental complications in women and children.
Even after washing, nearly 100% of all cherries contain detectable levels of toxic pesticides. Of all the food you should buy organic, this is right near the top of the list.
On average, a batch of grapes contains upwards of 60 different pesticides. From known carcinogens to neurotoxins and hormone disruptors, non-organic grapes are littered with frightening chemicals.
Celery is something of a gateway vegetable, with many parents introducing their children to vegetables by slathering these fibrous green stalks with ranch dressing and other dips. But if you plan to feed these to your children, you better buy organic—celery contains at least 64 different pesticides!
Starting in 2017, cherry tomatoes are no longer considered a risky pesticide crop. However, your standard tomato still ranks as one of the worst. With over 35 pesticides on your average tomato, you should definitely go organic when shopping for these fruits/vegetables.
Sweet Bell Peppers
Sweet bell peppers are quickly becoming one of America’s favorite snacks. Sadly, they also rank as of the most pesticide-riddled vegetables available. Sweet Bell Peppers come in at #11 on the EWG’s most pesticide-contaminated fruits and veggies rankings.
Non-organic sweet potatoes remain a relatively safe choice as far as pesticides go. The same, however, cannot be said of its starchier cousin, which is known to commonly carry upwards of 35 different pesticides!
Fruits & Vegetables You Don't Have To Buy Organic
Due to their low pesticide toxicity and lack of GMOs & preservatives, the following fruits and vegetables do not need to be purchased organic:
- Sweet Corn
- Frozen Sweet Peas
- Honey Dew Melon
Growing Your Own Produce?
To keep your family, pets and the soil safe & healthy, be sure to choose eco-friendly, non-toxic pesticides for your lawn & garden.