Most grocery stores seem to offer a wide variety of organic produce options these days. Does it make sense to spend the extra money on these items? In my opinion, the answer to that is…sometimes. If you look at the research, you will find conflicting information about whether or not conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are safe. But in 2012, for the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics adopted an official position, warning doctors and parents that pesticide exposures from food are potentially dangerous to children’s health. The following excerpt is from their website :
“Children encounter pesticides daily in air, food, dust, and soil and on surfaces through home and public lawn or garden application, household insecticide use, application to pets, and agricultural product residues. For many children, diet may be the most influential source, as illustrated by an intervention study that placed children on an organic diet (produced without pesticide) and observed drastic and immediate decrease in urinary excretion of pesticide metabolites.”
The research on whether or not the pesticide exposure from produce actually causes health problems is still being done…but my kids will probably be adults by the time the results are clear…and I don’t think I am going to “wait and see”. In the meantime, I am trying to choose wisely, since there is a significant cost increase when purchasing organic vs. conventional produce. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using the Environmental Working Group’s annual list of the most and least contaminated fruits and vegetables to help make these choices. EWG ranks pesticide contamination on 48 popular fruits and vegetables based on an analysis of more than 28,000 samples tested by the US Department of Agriculture and the Federal Food and Drug Administration. The samples are washed and peeled before they are tested to reflect how consumers will eat them. Here are the top five in each category from the 2013 list…to see the entire list, go to the EWG site.
Most contaminated: Apples, Celery, Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Grapes
Least Contaminated: Asparagus, Avocados, Cabbage, Cantelope, Corn
The list does change from year to year, so make sure to check back each spring. Then, if you are trying to lower your grocery bill, go ahead and buy conventionally grown items on the least contaminated list and reserve your organic purchases for the more highly contaminated produce. Sadly, apples always seem to be at the top of the “Dirty Dozen” list…and being from upstate New York, we eat a lot of apples around here! I am planning to do a post in the fall about organic apples…stay tuned!