Organic versus Conventional Foods?

Which one to take? The answer is simple:

Better to eat fruits and vegetables than not at all as the benefits outweigh the risk

Safety issue

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the majority of pesticides now in use are probable or possible cancer causes. Studies of farm workers who work with pesticides suggest a link between pesticide use and brain cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma and cancers of the stomach and prostate.[1]

Environmental issue concerns

We minimize our exposure to pesticide if we purchase organic food and also minimize the amount of these pesticides exposed to our environment. Let us promote more environmentally-friendly condition to our community by encouraging our farmer producing more organic produce.

According to the USDA, organic farming “integrat[es] cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.”[2]. Although organic cropland acreage in the U.S. has increased five-fold since 1995, organic cropland still accounts for only 0.57% of total cropland.(3)

Here is the list from The Environmental Working Group revealing the ‘Dirty Dozen’ produces (high in pesticides) and the ‘Clean 15’ (lower in pesticides). These are their most recent lists.(6)

Highest in pesticides – buy organic if possible:

  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell Peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Kale
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes (imported)

Peaches have the most pesticide residue of all fruits – 97% of conventional peaches test positive for pesticides, and as many as 53 different pesticides can be found on peaches. The most pesticide-laden vegetables are celery and bell peppers. Sixty-four different pesticides were found on bell peppers. Imported produce is also more likely to contain higher levels of pesticides.(6,7) Choosing to buy these fruits and vegetables organically grown will help to protect us against the possible risks of pesticide exposure. If you do buy the conventional versions of these foods, it is best to wash them with soap and remove the skin before eating them.

Lowest in pesticides – buy either organic or conventional:

  1. Onion
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Watermelon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Sweet potato
  15. Honeydew melon

Buying organic is a wise choice – organic foods taste better, and organic agriculture protects farmers and our environment.


References:
1. Environ Res. 1997;74 (2): 133-144.; Am J Ind Med 1993;24(6): 753-766.; Environ Health Perspect 114:156–164 (2006).
2. http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop
3. http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/organic/#national


 

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