healthy lap of the week – should you buy organic?

Healthy Lap of the Week – Should You Buy Organic?

This is a question that seems to come up a lot these days, and sometimes people just don’t know what to do.  Everyone has their own opinion on the subject, but below are my thoughts on the subject.

(Source)

What is organic? Organic fruits and vegetables are grown with natural fertilizers like mulch, and compost. The farmers rotate crops to reduce pests and disease and they also weed the fields by hand. This ensures that the food is all natural without any chemicals.  When it comes to animals, they must be reared without the routine use of antibiotics and growth hormones and fed a diet of organic foods.

Organic products are often a lot more expensive because of the care that organic farmers give to their animals, fruits and vegetables.  Becoming a certified organic farmer is a long, expensive process, so many farmers just don’t have the time or money to go through with it.  But, that does not mean that their products are not technically organic, since they do not use any chemicals and/or antibiotics.

(Source)

I always buy organic meat, eggs and dairy.  I feel better when I buy them because I know that the animals were treated better, and I know that the products that I am buying do not contain traces of antibiotics.  You have probably noticed that I do not eat a lot of meat, eggs or milk for similar reasons.

As for produce, I always try to buy local.  In the spring, summer and fall, I visit farmers markets as often as possible (and this year, we joined a local CSA), and ask the farmers how they grow their produce.  Usually, since they are small farms, they care for their fruits and vegetables and do not use chemicals on anything!  Just because they do not have a certified organic label, does not mean that they do not obide by the organic ‘rules’.  Make sure you ask around.

Winter months make it harder.  In the Northeast, farmers markets are hard to come by, therefore, I find myself at my local markets or Whole Foods.  I usually tend to buy organic at grocery stores because I have no idea where the conventional produce is coming from.  It just makes me and my body feel better.  However, it does get expensive, so when I am tight on cash, I often pick and choose which items I purchase organic, and which I do not.

Below is a list to help you out while grocery shopping.  If grown conventionally, the fruits and vegetables listed below have been found to have high levels of pesticides even after being washed, so these are a priority for buying organic (for me).  Most of them are thin-skinned, making them very susceptible to contamination. Usually, produce with thicker skins retain less pesticide residues. (Source)

  • Peaches and Nectarines: Peaches require a large amount of pesticides to grow conventionally and have extremely delicate skin, making them the top organic fruit pick – with nectarines not far behind.
  • Apples: Apples are the second priority when choosing organic produce, as their pesticide loads consistently test high.
  • Bell Peppers:  Bell peppers are the number one vegetable to buy organic. They have thin skins and are heavily sprayed with insecticides.
  • Celery: Celery lacks a protective outer layer and needs many different chemicals for conventional growth, making it number two on the list of vegetables to buy organic.
  • Strawberries: Strawberries rank high on the organic priority list. They are treated with very large amounts of pesticides, including fungicides. When purchased out-of-season, they probably come from a country with inadequate pesticide regulations.  Ewww!!
  • Cherries: Cherries continually rank high for pesticide contamination.
  • Lettuce and Spinach: Lettuce and spinach are often found to have high levels of various pesticides – sometimes very potent types.
  • Imported Grapes: Imported grapes are likely to have higher pesticide levels than domestic. Vineyards may be sprayed with a number of different pesticides throughout the growing season. Because grapes have a permeable skin, even peeling will not eliminate the residues.
  • Pears: Pears consistently show high levels of pesticides when tested.
  • Potatoes: Potatoes are at high risk for pesticide contamination and may also be affected by chemicals, such as fungicides, in the surrounding soil.
  • So, there you have it!  I found this list on a website awhile back, and have done some other looking about the top foods to purchase organic, but every list out there has these top items on it.  I always purchase these items organic, unless I am at a farmers market, or get produce from a local CSA.

    Have fun shopping!

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