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Top Foods to Eat Organic

Top Foods to Eat Organic

I do my best to eat organic.  I’m frugal by nature but food is one thing I’m willing to shell out extra bucks for.  To me, the health and environmental benefits of organic foods outweigh the extra cost.  That being said, sometimes money gets really tight and buying only organic can be cost prohibitive.  So while I’d love everyone to eat exclusively organic,  it’s often not realistic.  I also recognize that some foods are more important to eat organic than others.  According to the Environmental Working Group, the following 10 fruits and vegetables contain the highest levels of pesticides. It’s estimated that switching to organic versions of these items could reduce the pesticide content of your family’s diet by 80%, holy cow!

  1. Apples
  2. Bell Peppers
  3. Berries – especially blueberries, strawberries
  4. Celery
  5. Grapes (and raisins)
  6. Greens – especially spinach, kale, collards
  7. Lettuce
  8. Nectarines
  9. Peaches
  10. Potatoes

If you’re buying produce and can’t remember what’s on the list, here’s a general rule to help you figure it out.  Thin skinned fruits and veggies tend to contain more pesticides.  Things that have removable peels, pods or rinds typically contain less.  So if you’re gonna eat the skin, you probably want organic.  If the skin comes off, it’s less of a risk.

But pesticide levels don’t tell the whole story.  Conventional agriculture also dabbles with things like genetically modified food, growth hormones and overuse of antibiotics.   In addition to the produce listed above, here are a few additional foods that are best eaten organic:

  1. Milk and Meat – conventional meat and dairy farms are a health, environment and ethical disaster.  By contrast, organic milk and meat prohibits growth hormones, genetic modification, routine antibiotics, pesticides and cannibalism (conventional farms have been known to feed vegetarian animals their own slaughterhouse waste).  In general organic foods have 25% more nutrients than conventional foods as well as higher levels of antioxidants.  These benefits are increased even more when the animals are pastured (sometimes listed as grass fed for cows), rather than cooped up in a factory farm.
  2. Corn – some people will tell you that corn is on the safe list because the husk shields it from most of the pesticide exposure (that part has some validity).  However over 75% of the corn in the US has been genetically modified and we are essentially the guinea pigs unwittingly testing its safety.  No thank you.
  3. Soy – approximately 90% of soy consumed in the US has been genetically modified.  Monsanto has actually spliced RoundUp (their most famous herbicide) into soybean’s DNA.  The herbicide is now literally a part of the plant itself, good luck washing that off!

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aroberts/4331821479/

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