Organic Food or Not? What is Most Important on Your Plate. I am often asked about the importance of eating organic. One of the most common concerns is cost. If everything that you eat is organic it can get rather pricey. Trying to stick with organic for meats is pretty important due to the contamination with the feed, hormones, pesticides, and herbicides. There can be some more wiggle room with Produce though.
If you are unable to eat all organic produce, it is wise to be aware of those products that are the least toxic and those most contaminated with pesticides. Many of you are aware of the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen” lists. You might not be aware though, that this list is updated yearly by the Environmental Working Group. So, it is worth a seasonal re-read to see if there are any newcomers to the list. Foods are listed in order of importance. Their lists may be downloaded on ewg.org.
Organic Food ‘Dirty Dozen’
The most recent version (2019) is included here:
“Dirty Dozen” for 2019:
There is some industry concern that publishing disparaging information about certain fruits and vegetables may influence low-income consumers to buy less produce overall. “US Apple’s consumer education efforts focus on science-based reasons to eat more wholesome foods like apples — not less,” U.S. Apple Association president and CEO Jim Bair said in a news release. “The Surgeon General and leading health organizations agree there is a far greater health risk from not eating fruits and vegetables than from any theoretical risk that might be posed by consuming trace amounts of pesticide residues.”
In my opinion, this ignorance trends toward the assumption that people who decide to save money on produce cannot choose to buy the less-toxic fruits and veggies, that they will just eat Twinkies instead. I feel that the value of being able to make healthier choices within the fruit and veggie list transcends that concern. With that thought, you will probably not hear any complaints from the people on the “Clean 15 list” who will not have a potential income dip from being called out regarding levels of toxicity.
Organic Food – Clean 15
For its “Clean Fifteen,” EWG selected the following:
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
Standing against the EWG publication is The Alliance for Food and Farming who has a pesticide calculator that allows shoppers to see, “based on peer-reviewed research”, how many servings a child, woman or man could eat of any produce item before damage from pesticide residue could occur. This information at www.safefruitsandveggies.com
I find this information to be purposefully misleading as “Peer-Reviewed” research completely misses the concept of metabolic individuality. For example; the website shows:
“A man could consume 635 servings of strawberries or 26,061 servings of Kale in one day without any effect even if the strawberries/kale have the highest pesticide residue recorded by USDA”.
At our current level of advancement in medical science, it is absurd to make a blanket statement about the safety of pesticide loads. We know now that certain pre-disposed individuals are highly sensitive to pesticides and even mild exposures to chemical residues. We know this because when these individuals stop eating the toxic list of foods they feel better. We have also tested these slow detoxifiers’ genetics and confirmed an inability to clear the chemicals.
So, as usual, I ask questions. Who are the peers reviewing the data that you can consume the pesticide load of 635 SERVINGS of strawberries with no health risk? THAT IS 5,080 strawberries! I am guessing but that is probably 2 shot glasses of pesticide. Have these peers spent any time in practice treating sick patients? Have they read any of the new literature on genetic susceptibility that has been published in the last 15 years? Have they personally consumed two shots of pesticides to see how they feel after? I’m following the money signs on this “it is completely safe to consume toxins” rubbish.
Three basic rules to follow if you want to trend toward being healthy. Eat clean food, drink clean water and breathe clean air whenever possible. If you can afford to eat all organic it is the best choice. If you would like to scale it back a bit and save some money, make the educated decision to buy “non-organic – less toxic”.
Health is a Choice, stay informed.
Dr. Conan Shaw
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist