Which Foods To Eat Organic
In an ideal world all our foods would be free from chemicals such as pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and herbicides. In an ideal world we would not have to have a conversation about which foods to eat organic. Unfortunately as the world’s population grows, so does the need to feed them, hence we welcome commercial growing practices that include those chemicals for maximum yield. For many people, myself included, the preference would be not to have chemicals such as the carcinogenic industrial chemical – formaldehyde, that some Chinese growers are thought to spray on their produce to keep it looking fresh. It is interesting to note that when CHOICE Australia did some broad sample testing of imported produce here in Australia, they tested for 164 different pesticides. Yes you heard correctly 164 different pesticides! Here in Australia, AQIS is responsible for the monitoring and testing of imported food to ensure that it complies with the Australian Food Standards Code. Even with this in place it has been reported by AUSVEG the Australian vegetable grower’s peak body, that they have concerns that the testing does not capture all potential pesticides that fresh produce is exposed to overseas. Wow! Well I don’t know about you, but this is a tad scary.
Even though there are strict standards in Australia regarding safe pesticide levels on fresh produce, it is feared that there is still a way to go to come into line with other countries as far as acceptable levels of chemicals used and types of chemicals that are acceptable. Australia only bans chemical in this respect only when there is conclusive evidence that they are harmful.
We know that with organic produce comes a higher price tag when purchasing. If you are on a budget, buying everything organic may be out of your reach, but never fear the Environmental Working Group (EWC), based in the United States. has created a shopper’s guide that helps consumers know which foods to eat organic due to pesticide exposure called – The Dirty Dozen, and those that are safer to eat if non-organic known as – The Clean 15. This list is updated each year by the Environmental Working Group (EWC).
8. Sweet Bell Peppers (Capsicums)
10. Cherry Tomatoes
11. Snap Peas (Imported)
13. Hot Peppers
14. Kale/Collard Greens
2. Sweet Corn
5. Sweet Peas Frozen
9. Papayas (Paw Paw)
10. Kiwi Fruit
13. Cantaloupe (Rockmelon)
15. Sweet Potatoes
As these two lists are US based, as the EWG is a group that currently doesn’t have any offices outside the United States it’s worth noting that there will be differences country to country. If you reside in Australia please read on for the Australian equivalent of The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.
General Rule of Thumb when deciding to buy organic or non-organic produce.
Vanessa Layton has put together these tips and I think they are a really good general guide when it comes to what foods to eat organic.
- Tree fruits, berries and leafy greens, including herbs, have the highest residues. Fruits and
- Vegetables that have thick skins tend to have much lower levels of detectable pesticide residues.
The three main groups of things that you should really buy and eat organic, they are:
- Produce with soft flesh, such as stonefruit, grapes and berries.
- Produce with edible skin like carrots, apples, pears, capsicums and celery.
- Green leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach and leafy herbs like parsley.
As a general rule, any produce with a thick skin or has to be peeled before eating is a safe alternative. Examples include bananas or avocados, watermelons and oranges.
Australian Dirty Dozen
2. Peaches, Plums, Cherries
Australian Clean Fifteen
1. Kiwi fruits
6. Citrus fruit – oranges, grapefruit, tangerines
15. Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes made the EWG’s Dirty Dozen List, information I have read in relation to this here in Australia is mixed. For me personally, I try to buy organic or spray free potatoes. A good friend who is in the Natural Health Care Industry once told me, that potatoes that are not organic soak up the pesticide that seep into the ground and since I cannot find any information to confirm or deny this theory, I am heeding this advice.
General Tips to assist with what foods to eat organic:
- Wash all fruit and vegetables really well whether they are organic and non organic. I like to use a vegetable wash solution and a brush or vegetable cloth.
- Peel the skins off, especially on potatoes, carrots, stonefruit, apples, pears and cucumbers. For me this depends on whether they are organic, spray free or non-organic. I will wash and peel non-organic fruits and vegetables, however I tend not peel if the produce is organic or spray free.
- Grow what you can on your own – lettuce, spinach and herbs are really easy to grow in pots or in your back yard. It also gives you a sense of pride and achievement when you can go and harvest bits and pieces for your meals.
Thank you for reading I hope you have found this information helpful. If you would like to share any thoughts please leave a message in the comments below.