Friday, April 01, 2011

Organic Fruits And Vegetables - Are They Worth The Extra Money?

Peaches can contain lots of pesticides - buy organic !

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Eat your Fruits and Veggies!
Research shows that people who eat a healthy diet that includes lots of colorful fruits and veggies have less incidences of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, stroke and high blood pressure. For some, eating 5 to 7 servings of fruits and vegetables is a struggle. For vegetarians, vegans and raw foodists, not so much. I had that many servings in my smoothie this morning! But eating lots of plants can expose us to dangerous pesticides and other chemicals that can damage our health. We can avoid this exposure when we buy foods that have been grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizer.


Buying Organic
It's hard to wrap your head around paying $6 for a few pounds of apples and sometimes you just can't bring yourself to do it. So if you're on a budget (who's not?) and you need to make a decision about where to spend the money, you might be interested in a guide that was put together by the Environmental Working Group. After carefully reviewing data from almost 89,000 tests on produce for pesticide residue, they came up with what they call The Dirty Dozen. These are the absolute worst fruits and vegetables to eat with respect to the amount of pesticides they contain. So these are the ones you should spend the extra money to buy organic. Don't avoid them!! There are some beauties here that have healthful properties. Here's their list in the order of their pesticide content - #1 being the worst:
1. Celery
2. Peaches
3. Strawberries
4. Apples
5. Blueberries
6. Nectarines
7. Bell Peppers
8. Spinach
9. Cherries
10. Kale and Collard Greens
11. Potatoes
12. Imported Grapes


Ways to Save Money
Sometimes you can get organic fruits and vegetables without spending the extra money. Many times I go to the farmers market and ask the farmers if their food is organic. They often tell me that they grow their food using organic methods but they don't want to spend the time and effort to get certified. 
Another place that I find reasonably priced, organic produce is at Cosco. Yes, I know, it's a big box store but it's a great way to have access to affordable, organic fruits and veggies. They have megasize bags of organic spinach and mixed salad greens.  I also buy their huge bags of organic frozen blueberries and peaches for my smoothies. 
The Environmental Working Group also created a list of the Clean 15. These are the top 15 fruits and vegetables with the lowest amounts of pesticides. So if you have to buy conventionally grown foods, these are the ones with the least amount of risk. Here's the list with #1 being the best:
1. Onions
2. Avocados (thank goodness, my fav!)
3. Sweet Corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mangos
6. Sweet Peas
7. Asparagus
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Cantaloupe
12. Watermelon
13. Grapefruit
14. Sweet Potato
15. Honeydew Melon


The EWG points out that eating 5 fruits and veggies from the Dirty Dozen results in you consuming an average of 10 pesticides a day - yikes! This drops to 2 pesticides a day if you are eating from the Clean 15. I don't know about you but I don't feel good about consuming even 2 pesticides a day! I surely wouldn't feel good about serving them to my loved ones. 
Of course my favorite way to save money and avoid ALL pesticides in to grow lots of my own food. Check out 10 Good reasons to plant a garden and  How to build a raised bed vegetable garden box. So dig out those high maintenance plants in your front yard and put in a vegetable garden! What could be more beautiful or healthful than that?



1 comment:

Columba Lisa Smith said...

Thanks for this helpful blog! I carry a list of the dirty dozen and the clean 15 in my purse, so I can refer to it when shopping.
Blessing!
Lisa Smith
http://latenightsandlatin.blogspot.com/
http://susannasapron.blogspot.com/