Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Organic farmers apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants. They practice rotating crops, hand weeding or mulching in order to manage weeds, instead of using herbicides and other potentially toxic chemicals, used in non-organic farming.
Chemical residues from pesticides and herbicides remain not only on the skin of the fruit, but also can be absorbed into the inner flesh. Even low levels of pesticide consumed over time can be detrimental to human health. A study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that people who had been exposed to low levels of pesticides were 1.13 times as likely to have Parkinson’s disease as those who had never been exposed. Other studies have also linked pesticides to health problems, like cancer and nervous system damage.
Organic fruits and vegetables tend to be ripening slower without the chemical additives, therefore increasing their mineral and vitamin content. Research suggests that the levels of certain nutrients, like vitamin C, some minerals and some polyphenols (naturally occurring antioxidants that may help bolster the immune system) are higher in organically grown crops.
Organic fruits and vegetables are also more expensive and not all of us are ready to make the financial commitment to eat only organic foods. The following lists, compiled by The Environmental Working Group (EWG), nonprofit environmental research organization, can help you lower your pesticide exposure by almost 90 percent. By avoiding conventional versions of the top 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables you can both limit your pesticide intake and keep your cash.
The MOST Contaminated Fruits and Veggies (Buy These Organic)
- Sweet Bell Pepper
- Grapes – Imported
- Collard Greens
The produce with the LEAST amount of pesticide residues (don’t have to buy these organic)
- Sweet corn (frozen)
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Sweet potato
Print out these lists and carry them with you to the grocery store for easier and healthier shopping.