Thursday, August 23, 2012

Which organic foods should we be concerned about?

We’ve all heard that organic is better for our health, better for our food systems, and better for the environment.  Many of us have even heard about the so-called “dirty dozen” of foods that are most harmed by pesticide and other chemical interactions, but there are also a “clean 15.”  These are produce items that we can save a little money on and not always go organic, and are still ok for our health.

What does organic really mean?

According to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:

“Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”

But where can we save money and which foods are best to buy organic?  I just moved back to Sacramento, CA from Honolulu, HI, and the food freshness, availability, and cost is dramatically different in California. I’m starting a healthier, safer path for my diet and product use since I’ve moved back.  Now that I can afford to buy some fresh, organic produce, I’ll share with you which fruits and veggies are better organic. 

Buy organic (when available):                            
  • ·      Apples
  • ·      Blueberries (Domestic)
  • ·      Celery
  • ·      Sweet Bell Peppers
  • ·      Cherries
  • ·      Cranberries
  • ·      Cucumbers
  • ·      Grapes
  • ·      Green beans
  • ·      Kale/Greens
  • ·      Lettuce
  • ·      Nectarines (imported)
  • ·      Peaches
  • ·      Peas
  • ·      Potatoes
  • ·      Spinach
  • ·      Strawberries
  • ·      Tomatoes

The reason for this is both the kinds of pesticides and harmful residues that are left on these produce, and the vulnerability of the skin to absorb harmful chemicals. 

Save your money: (the clean ones)
Foods with thicker skins, like bananas, need not be bought organic if you’re trying to save a few bucks.  Here are the “clean 15” based on Environmental Working Group’s study published in 2012:
  • ·      Asparagus
  • ·      Avocado
  • ·      Cabbage
  • ·      Cantaloupe (Domestic)
  • ·      Eggplant
  • ·      Grapefruit
  • ·      Kiwi
  • ·      Mango
  • ·      Mushrooms
  • ·      Onions
  • ·      Pineapple
  • ·      Sweet Corn (but may contain GMO’s)
  • ·      Sweet Peas
  • ·      Sweet Potatoes
  • ·      Watermelon

There’s an app for that!
Check out Environmental Working Group’s website to download a free app for Android, iPhone,or a Windows phone to help you shop for the clean 15 and dirty dozen!  

More resources:

That’s it for this week!  Thanks for reading and feel free to post comments or questions.  
Stay tuned next week as we give a little glimpse into a new restaurant called ‘The Green Boheme’ in Sacramento and Dr. Priscilla Monroe. RN, ND’s tasty meal there!  

Have a healthy week!  Send us any questions to drmomnaturopath(at)!

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