I am pleased to have an ongoing cooperation with the Environmental Working Group (EWG, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health.
Specifically, I help EWG spread the word about one of its most valuable pieces of research – a Shoppers’ Guide to Pesticides in Produce.
The 2014 version is based on the results of pesticide tests performed on produce and collected by federal agencies in the past 9 years.
Nearly all of the data took into account how people typically wash and prepare produce (for instance, apples were washed and bananas were peeled before testing).
The following list of “Dirty Dozen Plus” had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to be substituted with their organic versions.
Or even better – to grow them organically on your own:
- The Strawberries healthiest
Organic strawberries may cost more, but it’s a price worth paying, scientists say. The fruit is both tastier and better for your health, research shows. The most detailed study of its kind has found that they contain higher levels of anti-cancer nutrients than fruit sprayed with chemical pesticides. Naturally-produced strawberries also have a longer shelf life and a richer, more fruity flavor, according to the researchers.
Their findings add to a growing body of evidence that organic food is healthier than conventional fruit and vegetables. Dr John Reganold, who led the study at Washington State University in the US, said: “We show that you can have high quality, healthy produce, without resorting to an arsenal of pesticides.”
The organic fruit had ‘ significantly higher’ levels of antioxidants – nutrients that mop up potentially dangerous and cancer-causing ‘free radicals’ in the body. They also last longer and have ‘more strawberry in the strawberry’, Dr Reganold reports in the journal PLoS One, published by the Public Library of Science.
- The apples healthiest
There is an unbelievable taste difference between organic apples and conventionally-raised apples. This is heavily due to how and when the fruit is harvested during their lifecycle. According to the EWG, the U.S. government and international government groups have proven data that shows a direct link to pesticides and: “brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone disruption, skin/eye/lung irritation, and even ADHD.”
- The grapes healthiest
When someone purchases Homegrown Organic Farms’ grapes they are buying much more than just a grape. The quality you experience is a result of many months of attention to detail by their growers that includes a very strict grade standard, efficient cold storage management and inspection programs. That is not to mention the commitment to organic farming methods and food safety standards common to all products we market.
Because of a grape’s physical make up, logic supports the importance of eating grapes that have not been treated with chemicals and post-harvest fungicides. When you enjoy their organic grapes you can feel confident that what you are eating is a grape and nothing more than only true organic nutrition!
- The celery healthiest
Organic celery contains phthalides, flavonoids, and polyacetylenes. These cancer-fighting components detoxify carcinogens. Celery also contains coumarins that enhance the activity of certain white blood cells, which can effectively stave off cancer as well. These antioxidant components seek out free radicals floating in the body and damaging organs and neutralize them before they can result in the development of serious conditions like cancer.
- The peaches healthiest
Peaches are far more than simply delicious. The health benefits of organic peach fruit include relief from hypokalemia, cancer, obesity, cholesterol, blood stasis and neurodegenerative diseases. It helps in maintaining healthy vision, skin care, nervous system, healthy bones, and teeth. It has anti-aging properties and also helps in detoxification, as well as improving digestion and cellular health. It has a wealth of essential nutrients and antioxidants which are valuable during pregnancy and it helps in strengthening the immune system.
- The spinach healthiest
The health benefits of organic spinach include improved eyesight, healthy blood pressure, stronger muscles, the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, atherosclerosis, heart attacks, neurological benefits, bone mineralization, anti-ulcerative and anti-cancerous benefits, skin protection, healthy fetal development, and boosted growth for infants.
It is a rich source of minerals, vitamins, pigments and phytonutrients. All of these together make spinach very beneficial for a number of vital processes. Due to the vast range of benefits from this vegetable, it is advisable to consume spinach on a regular basis. One of the biggest reasons why spinach is so important and valued around the world is that it is very durable. It can even survive through the winter and be just as healthy in the spring.
- The sweet bell peppers healthiest
Bell pepper contains an impressive list of plant nutrients that found to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. Unlike in other fellow chili peppers, it has very less calories and fats. 100 g provides just 31 calories.
Sweet (bell) pepper contains small levels of health benefiting alkaloid compound, capsaicin. Early laboratory studies on experimental mammals suggest that capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. When used judiciously, it also found to reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels in obese individuals.
Fresh bell peppers, red or green, are rich source of vitamin-C. This vitamin is especially concentrated in red peppers at the highest levels. 100 g red pepper provides about 127.7 µg or about 213% of RDA of vitamin C. Vitamin-C is a potent water soluble antioxidant. Inside the human body, it is required for the collagen synthesis. Collagen is the main structural protein in the body required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones. Regular consumption of foods rich in this vitamin helps the human body protect from scurvy; develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity) and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
It also contains good levels of vitamin-A. 100 g of sweet pepper has 3131 IU or 101% of vitamin A. In addition, it contains anti-oxidant flavonoids such as ß carotenes, lutein, zea-xanthin, and cryptoxanthin. Together, these antioxidant substances in sweet peppers help to protect the body from injurious effects of free radicals generated during stress and disease conditions.
- The potatoes healthiest
Potatoes are one of the most common and important food sources on the planet, and they contain a wealth of health benefits that make them all the more essential as a staple dietary item for much of the world’s population. These health benefits of organic potatoes include their ability to improve digestion, reduce cholesterol levels, boost heart health, protect from polyps, prevent cancer, manage diabetes, strengthen the immune system, reduce signs of aging, protect the skin, increase circulation, reduce blood pressure, maintain fluid balance, reduce insomnia, and boost eye health.
- The cucumbers healthiest
Cucumbers are extremely beneficial for overall health, especially during the summer since it is mostly made of water and important nutrients that are essential for the human body. The flesh of cucumbers is rich in vitamins A, C, and folic acid while the hard skin of cucumbers is rich in fiber and a range of minerals include magnesium, molybdenum, and potassium. Additionally, cucumber contains silica, a trace mineral that contributes greatly to strengthening our connective tissues. Cucumbers are known to heal many skin problems, under eye swelling and sunburn. Cucumbers also contain ascorbic and caffeic acids which prevent water loss, therefore cucumber is frequently applied topically to burns and dermatitis.
- The cherry tomatoes healthiest
Organic cherry tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that lowers your risk of certain diseases caused by cellular damage. A 2000 article published in the “Canadian Medical Association Journal” notes that lycopene can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Cherry tomatoes can have more far-reaching health benefits as well. The compounds in cherry tomatoes might offer protection against osteoporosis, skin damage caused by ultraviolet light and brain disorders, according to a 2010 article published in the “American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.”
- The sugar snap peas healthiest:
Organic sugar snap peas contain many vitamins that offer benefits for the entire body. They are a source of vitamin K, which activates osteocalcin and helps keep calcium in bones. They also contain vitamin B6, another vitamin that improves bone health by reducing the buildup of molecules that can cause osteoporosis. Sugar snap peas are a source of vitamin C, a nutrient that protects DNA structures from damage and improves the immune system. Folate is also found in sugar snap peas, which helps to improve heart health. Low levels of folate can raise levels of homocysteine, which increases the risk of heart disease.
Sugar snap peas are also a source of iron, a mineral necessary for normal blood cell formation. Adequate intake of iron helps to prevent conditions such as anemia and fatigue. The peas are also a source of beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that helps protect against the growth of cancer cells.
Why should you care about pesticides?
The EWG points out that there is a growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during vulnerable periods such as fetal development and childhood.
Also keep in mind that maintaining your family’s health is not the only reason to choose organic food! Pesticide and herbicide use contaminates groundwater, ruins soil structures and promotes erosion, and may be a contributor to “colony collapse disorder,” the sudden and mysterious die-off of pollinating honeybees that threatens the American food supply.
In a sentence: Buying or growing organic food is good for the health of the planet too!