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This is a guest post by Brea Gunn, who is a Certified Health Coach and blogs at BreaGettingFit and focuses on health and wellness. A mom of two, she is well aware of the challenges of balancing allthethings.
8 Vegetables You Should ALWAYS Buy Organic
Hi, everyone! My name is Brea, and I write over at BreaGettingFit. I’m obsessed with everything healthy, and was talking to Carly about why pesticides scare the apples out of me (see what I did there?).
So today, I wanted to share some interesting, disturbing facts with you about pesticides. Don’t worry. I’m not all doom and gloom. I’ve also included two awesome lists that you can use to help you save money at the grocery store – but I’ll get to that later.
First, pesticides. They’re bad, y’all. We’re talking man-made chemicals that are sprayed on plants and fed to animals to prevent “pests” from taking hold (or even living). So let’s think about this.
Pesticides are designed to kill. And they do a very good job at it. This is especially scary if you have kids like mine who love to eat their fruits and vegetables. Did you know that in children, pesticide exposure contributes to neurological problems (source), which impair learning, memory, and attention?
But that’s not all. Cleaning your fruits and veggies does remove dirt, traces of human handling, and reduces some pesticides – but it doesn’t wash away all of them.
Top that with the fact that the USDA tests fruit and vegetables as we typically eat them: washed and, when it makes sense, peeled (avocados are a good example). That means EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists properly show pesticide levels on produce after it’s already been washed.
Don’t worry-there are a lot of foods that aren’t sprayed heavily with pesticides because they are covered in a thick skin, which is nature’s way of protecting her bounty. A few of the items you can safely buy conventionally grown are:
* Onions, and
You can view the complete list HERE.
So. If you can buy some vegetables that are conventionally grown, it stands to reason that you’d want to buy the organic variety of others.
But wait, you say! That means I can’t find my favorite veggie year round!
You’re right. You can’t. And that’s how nature intended it. But you can buy most of your favorites in the freezer section, or you can can or freeze your own.
So which vegetables should you spend a little more on (or choose to grow yourself if conditions are right)?
Tomatoes ranked tenth on the dirty dozen list and for good reason! Over 69 different pesticides were found on the skin. Remember, these are tomatoes and you eat the skin. Always. So choose organic.
Lettuce and Leafy Greens
Let’s think about this one. You’re eating the whole leaf – which means that you’re eating all the pesticides that remain on that leaf after you soak it. Oh, you don’t soak your salad greens? Then you definitely need to buy organic or invest in a good veggie soak.
Cucumbers ranked ninth on EWG’s 2015 report of the dirtiest produce because they were found to have 86 different types of pesticides on their skin. When was the last time you peeled a cucumber?
According to the 2015 EWG report, the average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other type of produce. Go organic on this one.
Celery was found to have 64 different types of pesticides when tested by the USDA. SIXTY. FOUR. I don’t know about you, but that just makes my head hurt to think about! Do yourself a favor and grab the bag of organic celery. If you can’t find it, then pick something else.
Conventional peppers (including hot peppers) can contain as many as 75 pesticide residues, including known carcinogens and neurotoxins. Either grow them in your garden or buy them at the Farmer’s Market.
Everything I’ve found says that around 90 percent of the corn that you find in today’s market is genetically-modified, including popcorn. If you’re avoiding GMO’s, then go organic or buy at the farmer’s market so you can rest assured you’re eating actual corn and not franken-food.
In 2015, these were ranked #11 according to the Dirty Dozen list. Interestingly, imported snap peas appear to have more pesticide residue than US grown. That’s not exactly great news, since most tested had more than 70 different pesticide residues.
You need to eat your veggies. I’ll leave you with this: less than one third of adults get the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables according to the CDC. That means that one third of the people who are reading this sentence eat less than two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables per day.
So. If you can’t find or afford all organic all the time, use my cheat sheet to help you find the fruits and veggies that are safe and affordable for you.