Organic is Best

You may have heard that organic is not worth the extra cost because the nutrient content is not much different and organic is not 100% organic anyway.  It’s just a scam, so just buy your vegetables and fruit from Costco or Wallmart in bulk for less money.  I will explain why it really is worth the cost most of the time to buy organic, esp. fruits and vegetables.

To begin with, you need to know the incredible amount of dangerous chemicals that are sprayed on the plants that we eat.  Conventionally grown fruits and veggetables are sprayed with a huge amount of toxic chemicals designed to kill off insects, funguses, herbicides, and rodents. These plants are grown in soil that has added chemical nitrogen based fertilizers and other dangerous chemicals.  Approximately 80 millions pounds of one pesticide alone, the herbicide atrazine, is sprayed on US farms and lawns annually.

Are commonly used pesticides like atrazine and chlorpyrifos dangerous?  There have been hundreds of studies showing that pesticides can potentially increase the risk of neurological diseases like ADHD (1) and Alzheimer’s(2), birth defects(3), various forms of cancer(4,5,6), and disrupt the endocrinological (hormone) system, such as by having estrogenic effects.(7)

While it is a good idea to wash your fruits and vegetables prior to consuming them, you should keep in mind that pesticides are designed not to wash off in the rain, so they don’t come off easily.  If you don’t buy organic, you should scrub fruits and veggies carefully in a solution of dilute dishwashing detergent, fruit and vegetable wash, or dilute vinegar.  Unfortunately, in some cases, the pesticides have penetrated into the fruits and vegetables  and cannot be washed off.  This is especially the case with fruits that have a soft outer shell that is eaten, such as strawberries, blueberries and grapes.

Pesticides have a cumulative negative effect and we already get exposed to pesticides in our homes, where they are used to kill bugs (Raid, termite spray, rat poison, flea collars, insect repellent), weeds in the lawn (Round up and other supposedly safe herbicides), in conventional cleaning products as bathroom and kitchen disinfectants and to kill mold and mildew, in swimming pools to kill algae, etc.  Trace amounts may be found in drinking water and in fish.  When you consume non-organic fruits and vegetables you add additional pesticides that can accumulate in your body.

So not only are conventionally grown foods liable to be sprayed with insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other toxic chemicals, but they are likely to be lower in the phytonutrients that make fruits and vegetables so health promoting.  All these chemicals reduce the environmental stress on these plants.  Organic plants have to fight off a number of environmental stressors, such as insects, UV-B radiation, bacteria, fungus, excessive sunlight, so they produce these polyphenols and other phytonutrients to help them produce natural defenses.  And these phytonutrients, such as carotenoids, flavonoids, anthocyanins, and lignans, etc. make us healthier when we eat these plants.  Just as they protect the plants, they also protect us.  So there is no doubt in my mind that eating organic is worth the extra cost.  After all, the get what you pay for!

And yes, it’s true that organic is not as pure as we would hope.  Yes, organic farmers are allowed to use organic pesticides and certain other chemicals in limited amounts. But studies confirm that organic plant foods contain substantially lower levels of pesticides and other chemicals.

For those of you who would rather not spend the extra money, at least buy organic with the following foods that are likely to have the most chemicals:

The Dirty Dozen plus 2

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries (domestic)
  12. Potatoes
  13. Green beans
  14. Green leafy vegetables like Kale

 

References:

1.  Bouchard MF,   Bellinger DC, Wright RO, Weisskopf, MG.  Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and urinary metabolites of organophosphate pesticides  Pediatrics  2010;(125): 1270-77.

2.  http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/news/20090715/pesticides-may-raise-alzheimers-risk

3.  http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/pesticides.html

4. http://www.toxicsinfo.org/Lawn/Pesticides%20&%20Cancer.htm

5. Koutros S, Freeman LEB, Lubin JH, et al.  Risk of total and aggressive prostate cancer and pesticide use in the agricultural health study. Am. J. Epidemiol.  2013; (177):59-74.

6. http://www.beyondpesticides.org/health/cancer.php

7. Lee WJ, Blair A, Hoppin JA.  Cancer incidence among pesticide applicators exposed to chlorpyrifos in the agricultural health study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004: 96: 1781-1789.

8. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100301151927.htm

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  1. […] Trace amounts may be found in drinking water and in fish. When you consume non-organic fruits and vegetables you add additional pesticides that can accumulate in your body. So not only are conventionally grown foods …  […]

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