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.