Not all organic foods are worth the increased price, but five definitely are, according to Prevention Magazine. It notes that five popular food products are loaded with pesticides. In addition, overall, pesticide levels in foods are not dropping. Prevention Magazine obtained data from a new report from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) that analyzed US Department of Agriculture tests for pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables. The EWG found that 68% of produce samples tested had detectable levels of pesticides and 11% tested positive for more than five different pesticides. These pesticide levels have remained relatively constant over the past six years.
After five years of analysis, the EWG claims that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is falling short of the mark in regard to restricting pesticide use. The agency has focused on lowering dangerously high levels of pesticides; however, even low-level exposure to some pesticides, which contain chemicals that interfere with hormone levels (i.e., estrogen and testosterone), has been linked to thyroid disease, infertility, diabetes, other metabolic disorders, and certain forms of cancer. The EWG notes that, sadly, pesticides can make their way to your home in more ways than just food because chemicals used on farms routinely wind up in municipal water supplies that are not equipped to remove them. Thus, the best bay to minimize pesticide exposure is to buy organic foods. In so doing, you are not only consuming residue-free food, but you are also supporting a farming system that protects your water supply both now and in the future.
Food costs are a significant portion of many family’s food budget; thus, buying all organic foods is a stretch for many. The EWG is aware of this fact; therefore, it has prepared a list of five foods that you must always buy organic as well as 10 others that should be purchased organic if you can afford the price difference.
Five foods that you must always buy organic:
- Nectarines: The USDA found that every sample of imported nectarines tested positive for pesticide residues; the average imported nectarine contained more pesticides by weight than any other food.
- Bell peppers: The USDA found 88 different pesticides in sweet bell peppers––the highest of any vegetable. A single bell pepper tested positive for 15 different pesticide residues, the highest of any single sample.
- Leafy greens: The most toxic class of pesticides, known as organophosphates, are commonly used on leafy greens such as kale and collards. The EWG notes that these chemicals were originally intended for chemical warfare. Their use is highly restricted in agriculture; however, studies have found that even low-level exposure to organophosphates can seriously interfere with hormone levels and result in a drop in IQ among children exposed to them through food.
- Grapes: More pesticides are used on grapes than any other fruit. Combined, the various samples of grapes contained 64 different pesticides.
- Baby food: Baby food was tested by the USDA for the very first time this year. The agency found high levels of organophospates; in addition, baby foods contained a pesticide known to cause cancer.
Ten foods that should be purchased organic if your budget allows:
- Domestic blueberries
- Green beans