Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Organic Panic

If you know anything about nutrition, than like me, you were probably rolling your eyes over the bruhaha caused by recent headlines declaring organic food no healthier than conventionally grown food based on the results of a literature review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

These headlines referred to the findings that organic food has similar levels of nutrients and are not less likely to contain bacterial pathogens that can cause food-borne illness.  Well, duh!  Who ever thought this was the case?  Most people eat organic foods to avoid pesticides and to support more sustainable, environmentally-friendly farming practices.

In a perfect world we would only grow and produce organic food.  But let's face it, this is a far from perfect world.  Most people cannot afford to eat organic food.  Fortunately, if you pick-and-choose your food wisely, you can minimize your exposure to pesticides without breaking the bank.

Not only do different fruits and veggies have varying levels of pesticides, but where produce is grown is also a determining factor. 

If you want to avoid the most pesticide-laden fruits and veggies, than stay away from:

Most Pesticide-Laden Produce

Peaches (Chile)
Bell peppers (Mexico, Canada, and U.S.)
Nectarines (Chile)
Cucumbers (Honduras)
Pears (Chile)
Green beans (U.S. and Mexico)
Strawberries (U.S. and Mexico)
Asparagus (Peru)
Apples (Chile)
Kale (U.S.)
Cherries (Canada)
Summer squash (U.S.)
Source: Nutrition Action Healthletter, October 2012

Your best bets for conventionally grown fruits and veggies include:

Least Pesticide-Laden Produce

Mangoes (Mexico)
Asparagus (Mexico)
Bananas (South America)
Bell peppers (Netherlands)
Cantaloupe (Mexico and Honduras)
Corn (U.S. and Mexico)
Apples (New Zealand)
Carrots (Mexico and U.S.)
Watermelon (U.S., Honduras and Mexico)
Green onions (Mexico)
Grapes (U.S. and Mexico)
Cabbage (U.S.)
Oranges (U.S.)
Spinach (Mexico)
Blueberries (Canada)
Cucumber (Canada)
Cherries (U.S.)
Celery (Mexico)
Nectarines (U.S.)
Kale (Mexico)
Source: Nutrition Action Healthletter, October 2012

Even if you cannot afford organic produce, you should still aim to include as much fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet as possible, and to minimize consumption of unhealthy fats, added sugars and processed foods.  The next most important thing would be to try and eat as much organic food as possible.


  1. Thanks for posting the list above. The info on place of origin is really interesting. I do see some discrepancies with the Dirty Dozen from the EWG. Grapes are on the dirty dozen but on the safe list here. Interesting to me because it is one of the things I will only by organic. But, we buy conventional green beans ALL.THE.TIME. Here they are local, cheap.. and evidently pesticide-laden, yuck! And all 4 of us love them... :(

  2. I hear ya. I find every list seems to have some variations on what they consider the worst. I guess the take-home message is eat as many fruits and veggies as you can, and buy as much organic as you can afford!