What Should I Buy Organic?

ESTABLISHED

In the last post, we established:

1) If we eat commercially available non-organic produce, we have detectable levels of pesticide in our urine and blood.  Eating organic reduces pesticide levels to non-detectable levels.

2)  Pesticides don’t seem to shorten our lifespan, but they may have some undesirable neurological and cognitive effects, particularly in children.

CONSENSUS

The American Academy of Pediatrics, The Environmental Working Group (EWG), and the United States Department of Agriculture all agree and encourage us to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, whether they are organic or not.  A consensus seems to be:

1.  Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
2
.  If you can, buy organic.
3
.  If you can’t buy all organic, buy some organic.
4.  If you can’t buy organic, still eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.

PRODUCE PESTICIDE RANKING

The Environmental Working Group (Go over and read their site.  I enjoyed it.), using results from USDA testing, puts out a list ranking the pesticide residue found on commonly eaten fruits and vegetables from highest residue to lowest.

It is a helpful guide for our family.  For example, my kids eat loads of apples.  Loads.  So we definitely switched that one to organic.  And greens really shrink when you cook them and you eat lots, so I switched those to organic.  I like to try to buy organic, but I never pass up a good sale! Except on those HUGE apples that don’t even fit in the apple cutter.  Has anyone broken their apple cutter on one of those, trying to make it fit through?

The Dirty Dozen:  The first 12 on the EWG list they call “The Dirty Dozen.”

The Dirty Dozen Plus:  The Dirty Dozen plus kale/collard greens and summer squash.  The kale/collard greens and summer squash were added because of the type of pesticide residual found on them.  The residual is from pesticides that are no longer allowed to be used but that sadly stick around in the field for years and still get taken up into the plant.

The Clean Fifteen:  The last 15 on their list they call “The Clean Fifteen.”

(The list applies to produce available to American consumers.  I briefly Googled for European readers and Australian readers.  I found a brief blurb for European readers, and I list it at the end.  For Australia, I didn’t find much.  Anyone know anything?)

The Complete List, ranked in order from most pesticide residue to least:

1.  Apples
2.  Strawberries
3.  Grapes
4.  Celery
5.  Peaches
6.  Spinach
7.  Sweet bell peppers
8.  Nectarines, imported
9.  Cucumbers
10. Potatoes
11.  Cherry tomatoes
12.  Hot peppers
13.  Blueberries-domestic
14.  Lettuce
15.  Snap peas-imported
16.  Kale/collard greens +
17.  Cherries
18.  Nectarines-domestic
19.  Pears
20.  Plums
21.  Raspberries
22.  Blueberries-imported
23.  Carrots
24.  Green beans
25.  Tangerines
26.  Summer squash +
27.  Broccoli
28.  Winter squash
29.  Green onions
30.  Snap peas-domestic
31.  Oranges
32.  Tomatoes
33.  Honeydew melon
34.  Cauliflower
35.  Bananas
36.  Watermelon
37.  Mushrooms
38.  Sweet potatoes
39.  Cantaloupe
40.  Grapefruit
41.  Kiwi
42.  Eggplant
43.  Asparagus
44.  Mangos
45.  Papayas
46.  Sweet peas frozen
47.  Cabbage
48.  Avocados
49.  Pineapples
50.  Onions
51.  Sweet corn

FOR EUROPEAN COUNTRIES:

“The  highest percentage of samples exceeding the MRL was identified for oats (5.3%), followed by lettuce (3.4%), strawberries (2.8%), peaches (1.8%), apples (1.3%), pears (1.3%), tomatoes (1.2%), leek (1.0%), head cabbage (0.9%) and rye (0.2%). MRL exceedances were not  reported for milk and swine meat samples. Peaches had the highest percentage of  samples with measurable pesticide residues above the LOQ (73%), followed by 68% of the apple samples and 68% of the strawberries.  Comparing the results of the 2007 and 2010 EU-coordinated control programmes  (where the same commodities of plant origin – except pears – were tested), it  was noted that the only commodity for which the percentage of samples without  detectable residues increased was strawberries (from 31.1% in 2007 to 32.1% in 2010); the highest  decrease in the percentage of detectable residues was observed for oats (79.7%  in 2007 to 45.5% in 2010). The percentage of  samples exceeding the MRLs has increased from 2007 to 2010 for the following  crops: leek, lettuce, oats, and tomatoes.”

Sources:

USDA:  http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=stelprdc5102692

EWG:  http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php

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