What should I buy –organic or conventional?
This is the most asked question that I get and my answer usually depends on which fresh produce item you are purchasing. One of the main reasons to buy organic produce is fewer pesticides but I also take into consideration which produce items have shown to carry the most pesticide residue. How to do that? Let me introduce to you the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
The EWG is an amazing non-profit organization that provides up-to-date health and environmental information to help “empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.” This organization works for us – the consumer. How you ask? Well, they research which pesticides are in and on our food, what is in our everyday household products (shampoo, body wash, cleaning products), and even our water supply. This organization helps us as consumers make informed decisions – doesn’t get much better than that!
Every year, since 2004, the EWG comes out with a handy guide for consumers, ranking the pesticide contamination of many common fruits and vegetables that have been tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
This next part is IMPORTANT! All of the samples were tested after the produce has been thoroughly washed and peeled (if necessary). Ya see, the truth of the matter is – not all pesticides can simply can be washed off. There are some pesticides that affect produce systemically – meaning that the pesticide is absorbed INTO the food, not just ON it. No amount of washing is going to reduce these toxic substances. Pesticides surely are toxic pests – ironic, isn’t it?!
The challenge for consumers is to predict which pesticides can be washed off – I mean, there are over 178 types of pesticides! How the heck can you know?! This is why I recommend the EWG.
Every client of mine gets the current EWG’s Shoppers Guide in their materials because I want to make sure they are informed so they can reduce their pesticide exposure. Let’s take a quick looks at the differences in the 2016 and 2017 guide.
Spinach has moved up to the #2 spot on the Dirty List and while cucumbers were removed from the list, pears were added. This information is great to have – so feel free to click on the picture above to download the 2017 Guide. It fits perfectly into your wallet!
On a side note – as you browse the EWG’s website, you will notice they also have a large database (over 80,000 food items) where you can check Foodscores of a particular item based on nutrition concerns, ingredient concerns, and processing concerns – AMAZING! You just might be surprised to see what foods are hiding in your fridge or pantry. Great tool to get rid of the processed food in your house. Who would have thought Multi-Grain Dark Chocolate Cheerios would rank so poorly?!
Bottom Line: The main point is to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed food products. If buying all organic is not financially affordable for you – try to buy organic specifically when you’re selecting foods that are most heavily contaminated with pesticides. Even better – eat local!
Enjoy using the EWG’s website to stay an informed consumer!!