What Pesticides Are on Your Food?

bowl of fruit

Organic food has become very popular.

Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones. Specific requirements must be met and maintained in order for products to be labeled as “organic.”  – Organic.Com

 

dirty dozen clean fiveteen

Some studies show that organic foods have more beneficial nutrients. Health Guide list a variety of benefits of choosing organic foods.

  • Organic produce contains fewer pesticides. Pesticides are chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. These chemicals are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on (and in) the food we eat.
  • Organic food is often fresher. Fresh food tastes better. Organic food is usually fresher because it doesn’t contain preservatives that make it last longer. Organic produce is often (but not always, so watch where it is from) produced on smaller farms near where it is sold.
  • Organic farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution (air, water, soil), conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. Farming without pesticides is also better for nearby birds and small animals as well as people who live close to or work on farms.
  • Organically raised animals are NOT given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts. The use of antibiotics in conventional meat production helps create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. This means that when someone gets sick from these strains they will be less responsive to antibiotic treatment. Not feeding animal byproducts to other animals reduces the risk of mad cow disease (BSE). In addition, the animals are given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, both of which help to keep the animals healthy.
  • Organic meat and milk are richer in certain nutrients. Results of a 2016 European study show that levels of certain nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50 percent higher in organic meat and milk than in conventionally raised versions. This may be because organic milk and beef come from cattle that graze on a natural diet of grass, while conventional meat and milk usually comes from animals fed with grain.
  • Organic food is GMO-free. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants or animals whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding, most commonly in order to be resistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide. In most countries, organic crops contain no GMOs and organic meat comes from animals raised on organic, GMO-free feed.
  • Organic food may decrease certain food allergies. People with allergies to foods, chemicals, or preservatives often find their symptoms lessen or go away when they eat only organic foods.

dirty dozen list

Concerned about pesticides in your food? The non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) lists a “dirty dozen” of fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide load so that consumers know to look for organic varieties of them when possible.  The EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™helps you avoid the Dirty Dozen the foods you can choose non-organic items – The Clean Fifteen List. Take a look at the list below of the foods that have the most pesticides.

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers
  13. Hot Peppers
  14. Kale / Collard greens

Get the full list

Did You know?

Americans eat nearly eight pounds of fresh strawberries a year – and with them, dozens of pesticides, including chemicals that have been linked to cancer and reproductive damage or are banned in Europe due to health concerns.

clean 15 list

For conventional produce, EWG’s Clean Fifteen™ list highlights the fruits and vegetables that are least likely to have pesticide residues. Stick to this list when going organic is not accessible or affordable.

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