Organic. Grass-fed. Free-range. Pasture-raised. Cage-free. Ethically grown. Sustainable. Infused with pure vitality or whatever the latest alleged miracle cure vitamin of the day is…
The list of ways to qualify the food we buy as “healthy,” “sustainable” or “ethical” has spiralled nearly out of control, hasn’t it? I’m left to wonder how much merit is behind the claims, and how much is just great marketing, and sometimes fear-mongering.
“Buy this instead of this, or you’ll get cancer and die!”
Let’s just deal with the organic label today.
How important is organic?
The answer depends on the type of food. When you do a bit of digging—when it comes to produce, at least—you’ll discover that you certainly don’t need to bother spending the extra money organic generally costs on all of your fruits and vegetables. On some fruits and vegetables, yes, but not all.
Here’s a list of some foods where organic is a waste of money, and others, where organic does seem to be well worth it:
Don’t bother buying organic:
•Onions (Onions are much lower in pesticide residue than other vegetables)
•Avocados (The thick peel protects the goodness)
•Asparagus (The vegetable the least likely to contain pesticide residue)
•Kiwi (seldom sprayed with pesticides and is on the top 10 most clean fruits and vegetables list)
Spend the extra money on organic:
1. Liver: Though not a fruit or vegetable, it should be mentioned that if you’re into liver—be it beef liver or chicken livers—you should make sure it’s from organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed animals. Calves liver, or chicken livers are best. Why? Liver is where we store toxins in our body, so the cleaner the animal’s life was, the better his/her liver will be for you.
2. Apples: Apples contain as many as 36 different pesticides!
3. Cherry tomatoes: Ditto to apples
4. Strawberries: The official “Dirty Dozen" organic list gets updated each year, but strawberries are ALWAYS on the list. Since they’re grown close to the ground, the chances for pesticides are high.
5. Grapes: Also, avoid imported grapes, because imported grapes may have been fumigated with highly toxic methylbromide and are contaminated to the core (kind of scary).
6. Celery: Deemed the most likely vegetable to contain pesticide residue. 85% of samples test positive for harmful pesticides.
7. Peaches: Pesticides often get soaked into the fruit because the skin is so delicate, so even washing doesn’t remove the pesticides completely.
8. Nectarines: See peaches
9. Spinach: Generally highly contaminated.
10. Bell Peppers: They’re frequently sprayed with insecticides, and like peaches their skin allows them to soak right into the body of the vegetable
11. Cucumbers: Lots of pesticides on these guys. Peeling the skin does help, though.
12. Potatoes: The average potato has more pesticides by weight than any other food. They’re sprayed with insecticides and grow in dirt treated with fungicides. Luckily, they’re pretty inexpensive, so stick to organic, for sure.
Of course, the latter isn’t an exhaustive list, but it should at least give you a good starting point the next time you’re buying produce.