I understand: organic is expensive. And although I’m a big proponent of organic foods, I admit I don’t buy everything organic myself. But some foods are bigger pesticide sponges than others, and if you’re easing your way into organics, it’s good to know which ones they are.
Here’s my personal list of must-be-organics:
1. Salad greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc). The leaves are sprayed directly. Enough said.
2. Strawberries. Because they grow close to the ground, they’re more likely to attract pests and be sprayed more often. Plus, conventionally-grown strawberries are terrible for the workers’ health.
3. Peaches. Conventionally, peaches are heavily sprayed and their delicate skin absorbs the sprays more than fruits that are peeled.
4. Meat. I don’t eat meat, but if I did, I’d get the good stuff. It’s more than just your health at stake, but the environment at large.
5. Milk. Picture this: dairy cows fed with pesticide-laden grains, kept in crowded, filthy conditions and then pumped with antibiotics and Bovine Growth Hormone. Ewww. (The same goes for butter, cream, cottage cheese, etc.)
6. Potatoes. Because they grow in the ground, they absorb everything from the soil, including the chemical fertilizers and fungicides used to grow them conventionally.
7. Peanuts and peanut butter. Peanuts are well known as a “soil cleaner” among organic gardeners. This means they’re great for absorbing toxins in the soil, and can be used for preparing a plot of conventional land for next year’s organic crop. Peanuts used for this purpose must then be destroyed. Conventional peanuts, laden with toxins, are not healthy. This would explain why I used to get headaches every time I ate peanuts as a kid.
8. Tomatoes. Again, they’re thin-skinned.
9. Grapes, raisins and wine. Conventional grapes are heavily sprayed many times throughout their growing season.
10. Corn and Soy products. Conventional corn and soy is nearly always genetically modified these days. It’s best to avoid these products; the easiest way to do this is to eat fresh, whole foods and steer clear of the middle aisles of the grocery store.
11. Anything imported (produce or dry goods). Because agricultural chemicals that are banned in the USA are often still sold in other countries. You’ll have to do your homework on these products, as some are okay.
12. Bell peppers. Again with the delicate skins.
Read more about organics at The Daily Green.