Organic. To buy organic, or not to buy organic….that is the question. We have all been there: standing in the grocery store with a $7 bag of 5 organic lemons in one hand and a $3 bag of conventional lemons in the other…unable to justify the high cost of the organic. Or, we have rolled our eyes at the “elitism” when some states, “I only buy organic”. Well, I am one of those people now. Is it worth the higher price tag to buy organic?
The answer is an unequivocal yes. But, don’t take my word for it. One read of Maria Rodale’s very important book, “Organic Manifesto” and you will never look back at any conventional fruit or vegetable. After reading it, you will understand the history of chemical farming and why it is so toxic for our bodies and the planet. Before reading this book, I was completely ignorant of what “organic” really means and never knew what chemical farming is all about. More importantly, I learned why purchasing and consuming organic foods is so critical for a sustainable future for ourselves, our children and our planet. I believe Organic Manifesto should be required reading for everyone.
What makes a food “Organic”? The USDA (US Dept of Agriculture) created an organic seal. Foods bearing it are required to be grown, harvested and processed according to standards that include restrictions on the amounts and residues of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics.
According to the EPA, “organic” foods cannot be treated with any synthetic pesticides, sewage sludge, bioengineering or ionizing radiation. Here is the breakdown of the regulated terms on food labels:
- Foods labeled “100% organic” have no synthetic ingredients. Can use USDA organic seal.
- Foods labeled “organic” have a minimum of 95% organic ingredients. Still eligible to use the USDA organic seal.
- Foods labeled “made with organic ingredients” must contain at least 70% organic ingredients. Not eligible for the USDA seal.
The USDA found that even after washing, some fruits and vegetables consistently carry much higher levels of pesticide residue than others. Based on analysis of more than 100,000 US gov pesticide test results, researchers at EWG, a research and advocacy organization based in DC, have developed the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables. The conventionally grown on this list are laden with pesticides.
The Dirty Dozen. Below is the Environmental Working Group’s high-profile list of the fruits and veggies that are the most toxic when grown “conventionally” (non-organically). If you have an iPhone, EWG has a handy “Dirty Dozen” app you can download for your phone or iPad.
- Peaches. Considered the WORST on the dirty dozen list. Steer clear of conventional.
- Apples. Talk about taking a bite out of crime…about 40 pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are approved for use on apples.
- Strawberries. Ouch. More than 65 different pesticids, fungicides, and herbicides are registered for use on these lovelies. If you buy strawberries out of season, they are most likely imported from countries that have even less-astringent regulations for pesticide use.
- Celery. Celery has no protective skin, which makes it impossible to wash off the chemicals (all 64 of them!). The FDA suspects that celery is the most likely candidate for pesticide residue, due to its ability to absorb a number of toxins through the soil and groundwater.
- Nectarines. Nectarine trees take a beating for several months with various pesticides, fungicides and petroleum based horticulture oils.
- Cherries. Skip the cherry on top. Cherries are naturally attractive to insects and pests and suseptible to viruses and fugal diseases. In fact, one survey found that cherries grown in the US were found to have 3 times more pesticide residue than imported cherries.
- Kale/Collard Greens. Pains me to say it and this is newer to the dirty dozen list. Was found to have high amounts of pesticide post rinse when tested.
- Lettuce/Spinach. Leafy greens are considered to be contaminated with the most potent pesticides used on food–50 of them.
- Grapes. (Only imported.) Had some in my freezer imported from Chile and tossed them! Please read the labels. The USDA mandates that all grapes imported from Chile be fumigated with Methyl bromide when they arrive at US Ports.
Methyl Bromide is classified as a category one compound. it is an EPA classification reserved for the most deadly substances in regulation. It is a toxic, poisonous, ozone-depleting chemical that has been known to cause neurological damage. Source: Panna.org
- Bell Peppers. (Red and Green). Growers add their own concoction of toxic spices from among fifty approved chemicals and insecticides, typically spratyed two to six times on the pepper crops during their growth cycle.
- Pears. Bear more than 50 nasty chemicals.
Tomorrow, will look at the Clean 15. If you are a piña colada lover, this smoothie is for you! Coconut, pineapple. xo
Greena Colada Smoothie
Adapted from “Revive“
1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple
1 cup coconut water
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tbsp organic coconut flakes
Couple handfuls of spinach, or greens of your choice.
Blend all in high-speed blender. You can sub 1/2 cup nut milk and 1/2 cup water for coconut water.