Eat your fruits and vegetables! This is what you’ve been told since you were four years old. And for good reason – when it comes to health, eating the proper amount of fruits and vegetables is crucial (visit this site to calculate your own requirements). Fruits and vegetables help reduce the risk of cancer as well as ward off other diseases. They provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. And they are low in calories and fat and are made mostly of water, which helps you stay hydrated and maintain a healthy weight.
Pesticides used in farming fruits and vegetables have become a source of controversy. Pesticides prevent weeds, diseases, and pests from affecting crops. According to the USDA, 45 percent of the world’s crops are ruined due to spoilage or other damage, and this is why farmers rely on pesticides to produce quality crops. Many debate the importance of buying organic foods, while others simply avoid organic food because of its higher price.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit focused on protecting people from the health risks associated with toxic contaminants, like pesticides. The EWG searched through 100,000 produce pesticide reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to identify those fruits and vegetables highest and lowest in chemical residue. Based on their findings, they created two lists: the “Dirty Dozen,” and the “Clean 15.”
The fruits and vegetables dubbed the “Dirty Dozen” have 47 – 67 pesticides per serving. Their soft skin makes them more susceptible to absorbing the chemicals. For this reason, you should buy these fruits and vegetables organically grown. The “Clean 15” is a list of the fruits and vegetables with lower amounts of pesticides, which are safer to eat non-organic.
Now, don’t avoid fruits and vegetables all together in an effort to steer clear of pesticides. Instead, aim to buy the foods on the “Dirty Dozen” organically grown. If you’re on a tight budget, maybe it’s for the best you skip the potato chip aisle and invest in the organic apples instead. The few extra cents may save you from health problems down the line.
Here is the “Dirty Dozen,” and the “Clean 15” for you to use as a guideline:
- Nectarines – imported
- Grapes – imported
- Sweet bell peppers
- Blueberries – domestic
- Kale/collard greens
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet peas
- Cantaloupe – domestic
- Sweet potatoes
By Emily Borgeest