Monday, November 29, 2010

The Dirty Dozen

“Should I eat organic produce?”

This is a question I get all the time, and it’s one that yields different opinions from different people.  Even among R.D.s, there are some who advocate for a mostly (if not completely) organic diet as well as those who are doubtful of the potential benefits of organic foods in light of their high price point.  So who’s right?

That is the question.  Relatively speaking, we have only recently begun to develop an awareness of the presence of pesticides in our food supply.  Therefore, few longitudinal (across time) studies have been conducted that assess the relationship between pesticides and our health.  In the next fifty years we will have more definitive evidence, but for now, what can we do?

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that focuses on public health, examined 100,000 produce pesticide reports from the United States Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  From these reports, they identified the twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables.  These produce items, dubbed the “dirty dozen,” contain 47-67 different pesticides per serving.  Try to buy them organic.

The Dirty Dozen

Domestic Blueberries
Imported grapes (most come from Chile)

Spinach, Kale, Collard greens
Sweet bell peppers

The good news is that plenty of produce contains lower levels of pesticides.  Save your money and buy the conventional (non-organic) version of bananas, avocadoes, asparagus, sweet potatoes, onions, and more.  For a complete list, go here.

Don't sweat the sweet potatoes!

And remember, whether or not you choose to buy organic fruits and vegetables, more matters!

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