Everyone knows that when given the option, it is more important to buy organic food items rather than conventionally grown. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “organic” refers to food item that are neither grown, nor handled, with genetically modified organisms, genetic engineering, synthetic fertilizers, or synthetic pesticides.
However, it is also common knowledge that buying organic is generally more expensive than the alternative.
Because of this, most people opt for cheaper, conventionally-grown items, bearing in mind that eating any kind fruits and veggies is better than eating none at all.
These people are correct. No matter what diet you’re following – keto, paleo, omnivorous, pescatarian, or vegan – the most important thing is that you’re getting enough fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet to reap all the benefits they contain.
Because non-organic food items can contain trace amounts to heavy amounts of pesticides, some may compile a small list of items to buy organic while others, conventional. But how do they choose?
Here is a short guide to the most important produce and other food items to look for USDA’s “organic” tag.
Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases their list of the 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the highest amounts of pesticide residue, naming that list the “Dirty Dozen.” The top three are:
According to the EWG, last year, a single strawberry contained 22 different pesticide residues and one-third of the strawberries tested contained at least ten different pesticides.
More than 71 percent of spinach samples tested by the EWG contained the pesticide permethrin. Permethrin is a neurotoxic insecticide and has been considered a “weak carcinogen” by the Environmental Agency.
The EWG found that 90 percent of conventionally grown apples contained pesticide residue and 80 percent of the contained diphenylamine, a pesticide that was banned in Europe because the makers of the chemical could not definitely say that it was safe for consumption.
Buying organic also means staying away from pesky GMOs. While GMOs are less harmful than pesticides and haven’t yet been shown to have any adverse health effects, many people want their food to come as naturally as possible. If you are among these people, it is most important to buy these two foods organic:
The vast majority of corn in the markets today is genetically-modified. If you want to steer clear of GMOs, be sure to buy organic corn and products containing corn (syrups, oils, starches, and popcorn).
According to organic.org, upwards of 90% of soybean crops are genetically modified. If you are following a vegan or vegetarian diet, soy products are more than likely a staple in your diet. When shopping for soy milk, tofu, and even soy sauce, it is important to buy organic if you want to steer clear from GMOs
Lastly, and to some most importantly, is…
Coffee is the most heavily chemically treated food in the world. According to Equal Exchange, conventionally grown coffee is seeping with synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides (ew). Organic coffee is free of these harmful chemicals, while being grown with only natural fertilizers like compost, or coffee grounds. In addition, according to Equal Exchange, organic coffee crops emit less carbon than conventional coffee crops. Purchasing organic coffee is also supporting the fight against climate change.