Many people ask about choosing organic fruits and vegetables over conventional varieties. Are organics better for your family? The answer to the question is not as easy as “yes” or “no.” There are pros and cons in each camp. Pros to buying organic produce include decreasing your exposure to pesticides and chemicals, and supporting environmentally-friendly farming practices. Cons to purchasing organic produce include higher cost and the potential for faster spoilage (although this hasn’t necessarily been proven).
While it is true that organic fruits & veggies contain fewer pesticides and chemical residues than the conventionally grown variety, so far scientists haven’t been able to prove that people who eat organic produce are any healthier than people who eat conventional fruits & veggies. Truthfully, there haven’t been many studies to look at this on the long-term so one could argue that we don’t really have the full picture yet. The available research does tell us that people who eat the most fruits & vegetables (organic or not…) are the healthiest and have the lowest risk of disease. Science tells us the bottom line is eating fruits & vegetables whether organic or not is MOST important to our overall health.
Sadly, in the US, most of us aren’t even getting the minimum recommendation of 5 servings of fruits & veggies each day. Take a step back and look at how your family is doing with this goal. Your first priority as a Honest Mom is to increase fruit & vegetable intake in your household (which can be a tricky task!). If your family is missing the mark, then start there and worry about choosing organic or conventional once you’ve made some progress with getting them to eat more.
If your family is getting the recommended amounts of fruits & vegetables, then it may be time to think about whether or not to purchase some organic varieties. Certain fruits and vegetables, dubbed the “Dirty Dozen,” have higher levels of pesticides than their counterparts, the “Clean Fifteen,” which have minimal amounts. If you do decide to purchase some produce organically, spending money on the “Dirty Dozen” will focus your organic choices where they will have the biggest impact.
The following fruits and vegetables were found to have little or no chemical residue after washing and should be safe to consume when conventionally grown.
- sweet corn
- sweet peas
- kiwi fruit
- sweet potatoes
- sweet onions
When grown conventionally, researchers found that these fruits and vegetables contained more than 40 different chemicals after washing.
- domestic blueberries
- sweet bell peppers
- spinach, kale and collard greens
- imported grapes