On Organic Produce
I have a confession to make. I seldom buy organic produce.
It’s not because I’m not worried about my health. I’d say it’s because I’m a thrifty shopper, but that’s hard to prove when I consistently leave the store with $75 in food. I usually buy organic blueberries, as I’m convinced they taste better, but I usually skim over the rest of the organic section because I don’t know why I should be buying them.Pesticides! people say. But are those small doses of pesticides really going to kill me? With all the other wishy-washy health claims out there (This causes cancer! That causes you to grow a third eye!), it’s hard to separate the truth from the distorted information. Am I at risk for disease because I eat conventional apples? Am I full of toxins because I choose regular potatoes over organic? I really don’t know the answer to that.
I was talking to my friend Kyli about this at lunch the other day. We both decided we’d eat organic fruits and veggies if someone told us WHY we should eat organic fruits and veggies–but nobody has really done that yet. I’d heard about the “dirty dozen,” but hadn’t been sold on it.
So this morning, I read this article.
CNN says the “dirty dozen”—that is, the produce that ranks highest in pesticide residue–includes apples, celery, sweet bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, imported nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, domestic blueberries and potatoes. I eat at least eight of those on a weekly basis, so my interest was piqued.
According to the article, about 7% of organic produce and 38% of conventional produce across the U.S. contains detectable pesticides (Sometimes, organic and conventional produce are grown close together and the conventional pesticides blow over toward the organic fields. They’re also often processed in the same warehouses). But just how harmful are pesticides? That depends on several factors. Age, exposed tissues, levels of toxicity, metabolic abilities–there’s a lot more to consider than I’d originally thought. According to the article, small children and pregnant women are the most affected by pesticides. How affected, though, is still up for debate. The American Academy of Pediatrics says new and expecting mothers should “minimize using foods in which chemical pesticides or herbicides were used by farmers.”
But according to a Harvard professor of environmental health, it doesn’t matter how old you are—even if we’re larger than the insects pesticides terminate, the idea behind the toxins is still the same: exposure is meant to kill. Over time, he said, the effect is the same.
But according to the FDA, the levels of pesticide residues in the U.S. food supply are well below established safety standards. So who do we trust? The FDA? Harvard? It’s still debatable.
Because I’m not a mom or a small child, I’m not sure I’m sold on organic produce quite yet. There are equal levels of vitamins and minerals in both organic and conventional foods, and since I don’t eat meat or drink cow’s milk, I’m solely concerned about produce. As of now, I’m still not convinced. This is the first time I’ve really gotten into reading about pesticides, though, so if you’re a die-hard organic fan, tell me why! My mind is open.
Welp, I’m off to eat a conventionally-grown peach. Kidding. But I’ll see ya later tonight!
Related posts:September 4, 2012
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