The Dirty Dozen: Which foods to always eat organic and why!
By: Leanne Ely
The word “organic” is on everyone’s lips these days, from choosing organic cotton bed sheets to buying organic fruits and veggies.
I always reach for organic first whenever I can, and I recommend you do the same. But, I do realize that we don’t all live in places where fresh organic produce and meats are readily available.
If you don’t have the option to choose organic 100% of the time due to budget or availability of organic foods, you can only do so much!
There are, however, some foods that I would strongly suggest you avoid if you don’t have an organic option because of the amount of pesticides involved in growing them.
Here’s the hit list of foods you should avoid if an organic option is not available:
The Dirty Dozen
1: Apples. That non-organic apple could have up to 40 different pesticides on it. That’s because insects and fungus love apples even more than we do, and so farmers are forced to spray the heck out of their orchards. This means that apple juice and apple sauce can also be heavy on pesticides if you don’t choose organic options. If organic apples aren’t available, at the very least discard the peelings. Keep in mind, though, that when you do that, you lose most of the nutrients of the fruit.
2: Celery. Up to 60 different pesticides having been detected on non-organic celery. If you can’t find it organic, you should look for your crunch elsewhere!
3: Strawberries. Strawberries are lousy with chemicals and pesticide residue because, just as with apples, bugs love them. If you don’t have an organic strawberry option, consider reaching for a different type of berry.
4: Peaches. Farmers use up to 60 different chemicals to rid their peach trees of pests. For that reason, avoid peaches that are not organic. This goes for canned peaches as well.
5: Spinach. The leafy green with the highest amount of pesticides used to grow is spinach. This goes for the frozen variety, too, by the way. Buy it organic, or buy a different green leafy veggie.
6: Imported nectarines. Did you know that imported nectarines are among the most contaminated tree fruits out there? Domestic nectarines are still high in pesticide residue, so if you can’t find organic, buy something else.
7: Grapes. Grapes are a filthy food item with more than 30 pesticides being used to grow them. Buy organic grapes, organic raisins and look for organic wine!
8: Sweet bell peppers. No matter what color you reach for, your sweet bell peppers are covered in pesticide residue if they’re not organic.
9: Potatoes. Since potatoes are high in pesticides, so are french fries and other tuber products that are not organic. Sweet potatoes are more nutritious and have less pesticide residue than their white relatives, so buy those if you can’t find organic spuds.
10: Blueberries. They’re very healthy for us, but only if they’re not covered in pesticides. Frozen blueberries have been found to have less pesticide residue, but you’ll be safest if you buy organic.
11: Lettuce. Trailing a bit behind spinach in the filthy leafy green category, lettuce does have a tremendous amount of pesticide residue on its non-organic varieties.
12: Collard Greens and Kale. There’s a tie for the twelfth dirtiest food. Kale is a superfood and a favorite of mine. I grow my own, so I know it’s safe and organic. But if you can’t find organic kale, skip it! Collard greens are as high in pesticide residue as kale, so if you can’t find organic ones, reach for cabbage, dandelion greens or brussels sprouts instead.
Now that we know which foods are dirtiest, let’s look at “The Clean 15!” These are vegetables that are generally safe to eat in an non-organic form. I still advise that you look for organic when possible, and to always wash your fruits and veggies!
• Sweet peas
• Sweet onions
• Sweet potatoes
NOTE: These lists change often. To stay safe and to keep up to date, bookmark ewg.org and stay informed!