To Buy Organic Or Not To – That Is The Question

Many people struggle with this question.  The case for buying Organic vegetables and fruits is that they are pesticide and GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) free. Why should we care about pesticides and GMO?  In his post titled How to Find the Healthiest Fare in Meat and Produce Aisles, Dr Mercola succinctly answers this question:

“Research has shown that pesticides and other agricultural chemicals are neurotoxins and can cause disruptions to your neurological system and your brain. The reason why neurotoxins still enjoy widespread use on our fresh food supply is really more about the bottom line for farming operations than it is about the science of human health.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides, and 30 percent of insecticides to be carcinogenic. All of these toxins are permitted on conventional farms, and any number of them can end up on your plate when you purchase conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables.

The increased use of genetically engineered Bt hybrid plants and soil insecticides also increases the chemical load in food — particularly processed foods.

These man-made neurotoxic chemicals can bioaccumulate in your body, as they resist breaking down in water and also accumulate and store in fat, where they can remain for long periods of time.

In short, this means your body has a very hard time getting rid of them once they enter your body.”

The case against buying organic is:

  • it is darn expensive (compared to conventional produce) and
  • some research, although controversial, shows that organic food is not any more nutritious than conventionally grown foods. A team of Stanford researchers concluded in an article in Annals of Internal Medicine  that:

“Published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods. (Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria)”

A Happy Medium

Let’s face it, life is all about compromises.  And Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides us with a compromise for Organic vs. Conventional in their 2013 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™.  According to this study:

“The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides™ to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and choosing the least contaminated produce.”

12 Most Contaminated Fruits And Vegetables

Here are the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables per EWG that you are better off buying Organic:
  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Cherry tomatoes
  4. Cucumbers
  5. Grapes
  6. Hot peppers
  7. Nectarines – imported
  8. Peaches
  9. Potatoes
  10. Spinach
  11. Strawberries
  12. Sweet bell peppers
  13. Kale / collard greens
  14. Summer squash

15 Least Contaminated Fruits And Vegetables

EWG also provides a list of 15 least contaminated produce:
  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocados
  3. Cabbage
  4. Cantaloupe
  5. Sweet Corn
  6. Eggplant
  7. Grapefruit
  8. Kiwi
  9. Mangos
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Onions
  12. Papayas
  13. Pineapples
  14. Sweet peas – frozen
  15. Sweet potatoes

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  • Lawrence Wolk August 23, 2013, 9:38 am

    I just bought a friend a deluxe fruit basket from Harry and David. All items in the basket are USDA ORGANIC. Included in the basket are pears, apples, grapefruit, and organic fruit bars. There do not seem to be many commercially prepared fruit baskets with the “more desirable fruits” included.

    In any case, my friend is a religious follower of Mercola, and after ordering the basket, I checked the Mercola site and learned that Mercola does not particulary approve of these fruits unless they are organic. Since I have ordered a USDA ORGANIC fruit basket ( lower fructose levels and fewer pesticide issues), do you think my friend will repudiate my gift ?