Buying Organic Selectively

by Simran Dukhia, 3rd year Dietetics

Why eat Organic fruits and vegetables? One reason is that they contain fewer pesticides! Pesticide consumption is related to cancer incidence; hence eating organic produce may decrease one of the risk factors for developing cancer. Switching to a 100% organic diet may not be feasible on a student budget, so how can we reduce our pesticide consumption without having to go completely organic? Read on!

Non- organic produce is sprayed with varying amounts of pesticides and insecticides, with some crops sprayed more heavily than others. According to the Dirty Dozen list prepared by the Environmental Working Group in the US, there are 12 fruits and vegetables that are heavily sprayed with pesticides, labeled the “Dirty Dozen”. Each item on the list contains between 47 and 67 pesticides per serving.

If you cannot afford to buy these foods organic, an option is to peel off the skin when possible because the skin contains the greatest amount of pesticides. You can also choose to eat foods on this list less often, or incorporate organic choices into your shopping routine when you are able to.

On the bright side, there is a list of produce that has been established to contain a low amount of pesticides called the “Clean Dozen”. Non-organic varieties of these fruits and vegetables are relatively low in pesticides.

In summary, there is a strong rationale for reducing your intake of pesticides. By becoming aware of fruits and vegetables with higher and lower pesticide content, it is possible to reduce your pesticide consumption without buying everything organic.

Dirty Dozen

  • Apples
  • Bell peppers
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Imported grapes
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Nectarines
  • Pears
  • Strawberries

Clean Dozen

  • Asparagus
  • Avocadoes
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwis
  • Mangoes
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet corn
  • Sweet peas
  • Watermelon

references: Kuprowsky, S. (March/April 2011). The Obesity-Toxity Connection: Part 2. Vista Magazine, Issue 76,32-33.

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