There is considerable research that shows a plant based diet offers more benefits than a non plant based traditional diet and additional research supports the benefit of organically produced produce, especially for developing infants and children, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
But think twice and choose wisely before making that fruit and vegetable smoothie or filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables that can contain high amounts of 47 different pesticides. One option is to purchase organically grown produce.
For some individuals purchasing totally organic produce in the quantities necessary to get the recommended 9-10 servings per day 3 cups vegetables (6 servings) and 1.5 to 2 cups fruits (3 – 4 servings) (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vegetables-full-story/) is simply too costly or not practical according to a Harvard School of Public Health report.
The creators of the Healing Foods Pyramid recommend an unlimited number of vegetables, with a minimum of 5 servings daily and a minimum of 2 to 4 servings of fruit daily. According to the authors of the Healing Foods Pyramid, the most significant reductions in illnesses are seen when we eat between 7 and 10 servings of combined of brightly colored fruits and daily.
So how do you know which fruits and vegetables to buy organic if you want a variety but cannot afford the cost?
Here are 5 strategies:
1. Look for organic sales – they are becoming more frequent.
2. Ask you grocer what their policy is putting organic produce on sale – some will place it on sale on Wednesdays in preparation of fresh weekend supplies
3. Purchase fruit with thick skins that are peeled away like pineapple and bananas rather than thin skins like apples, peaches and grapes.
4. Purchase organically for the produce that has the highest concentration of pesticides like apples, strawberries, grapes or celery.
5. Consider purchase organically for the produce that you eat most frequently, even if it has a minimum level of pesticides like sweet potatoes or avocado.
How do you know which fruits and vegetables have the highest contamination of pesticides? Refer to the The Dirty Dozen list and The Clean 15 …
The Environmental Working Group (an organization of scientists, researchers and policymakers) has assembled two lists of produce based on the degree of chemical content.
Known as The Dirty Dozen list and The Clean 15, these lists of 27 … taken from of larger list of 51… were originally created following a report issued by the President’s Cancer Panel recommended eating pesticide free produce as a measure to reduce the risk of disease such as cancer.
The purpose of the lists was to assist consumers in determining when to purchase organic and when it may not be necessary.
The fruits and vegetables on The Dirty Dozen list, “tested positive for one or more of 47 to 67 different chemicals. Conventionally grown produce was pressure washed before testing and still contained pesticides.
Richard Wiles, senior vice president of policy for the Environmental Working Group says, washing away the pesticide residues on fruits and vegetable will “reduce pesticide exposure,” but added that you are not going to wash away pesticides.
The FDA advises against using commercial produce washes because the safety of their residues has not been evaluated and their effectiveness has not been tested or standardized. See a link below on a guide to washing produce.
The list includes … worse to bad: (the list below includes the worse 14 due to the popularity of Kale)
1. Apples (worse)
7. Sweet bell peppers
8. Nectarines – imported
10. Cherry tomatoes
11. Snap Peas – imported
13. Hot Peppers
14. Kale and Collard greens
All the produce that were found to have little or no traces of pesticides, were placed on the Clean 15 List … considered safe in a non-organic form … and included in order of least amount of pesticides:
1. Avocado (least amount)
2. Sweet Corn (Frozen)
5. Sweet Peas (Frozen)
8. Mango (Subtropical and Tropical)
10. Kiwi Fruit (Subtropical and Tropical)
13. Cantaloupe (Domestic)
15. Sweet Potatoes
Click here for a link with all 51 foods ranked in order of pesticide content.
As a reminder, even if your favorite produce is in the Clean 15, or even lower on the list and closer to the Dirty Dozen list, if you eat large quantities, are juicing them or adding them to your smoothies, you may want to consider buying organic.
This information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical/nutritional/fitness advice. Information presented is subject to change as additional discoveries are made or additional research is published. Links to various sites within blogs are provided for your convenience only and we are not responsible or liable for the content, accuracy of information provided or privacy practices of linked sites or for products or services described on these sites.
For additional information: Click here to learn how to wash produce. Click here for a link with all 51 foods ranked in order of pesticide content. The full list containing 51 types of produce can be found at http://www.foodnews.org/fulllist.php, USDA National Organic Program; – http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateN&navID=NationalOrganicProgram&leftNav=NationalOrganicProgram&page=NOPAccreditationandCertification&description=Accreditation%20and%20Certification&acct=nopgeninfo
Sources: Harvard School of Public Health; Industrial statistics and projected growth; Wikipedia.org/wiki; The Organic Agriculture Center of Canada; Science Daily; USA Today.com; Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/food/pest.htm, http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09380.html, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vegetables-full-story/