The Key Foods to Eat Organic

Sunday, April 20, 2008
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

It remains a considerable challenge for the American public to find fresh food of adequate quality.  We all know we should eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, but many of them are contaminated with pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides.

Government officials at the EPA and FDA are known to be a revolving door with the very industries they regulate – enabling various industries to profit at the expense of your health.  The concept that a given chemical in your food is not adequate to cause cancer is no longer a standard that is adequate for protecting the public health.

Virtually all chemicals work by poisoning the nervous system of the pest, meaning they are fat-soluble and able to irritate the lining of your arteries and cross your blood brain barrier.  Levels far below what causes cancer are able to initiate metabolic disruption, thyroid dysfunction, and cardiovascular irritation.

In addition to eating organic food because it contains far fewer chemicals, organic food has also been shown to be more nutritious.  It has more antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals – all key factors that promote health.

The consumer demand for organics has created a flood of “organic” food coming from other countries ranging rather dramatically in appearance, taste, and quality.  My simple motto is that if it doesn’t look very alive, it probably isn’t worth eating whether it is organic or not.  I prefer grown in the USA, especially on a nearby family farm, whenever possible.

Many small family farms in your area are practicing mostly organic farming but cannot afford organic certification.  Get to know your local community and farmer’s markets – ask questions and support those who are trying to put quality food on your table.  Your health over the course of your life depends on it.

Organic Priorities

Dairy products are the most important, especially those from the U.S.  Cows in large farming operations often eat feed contaminated with chemical pesticides, mold residues (not fit for human consumption), antibiotics, and are also stimulated with synthetic growth hormone. 

Many higher quality cheeses made in this country and in Europe have very little, if any, chemicals, although they are not listed as organic.  High end cheese making relies on flavor produced by cows eating grass in various regions of the world.

Meat and egg quality is the next issue.  Organic certification is best, free range is next best.  Animals that are allowed to run around are healthier to eat – by far.

There is no way to avoid all chemicals on food or in water.  It is truly a numbers game.  The better the quality of food you consume the less chemical-induced damage your body will have to repair.  One reason I designed Daily Balancer was simply to help protect your liver against inevitable exposures to all these chemicals, as well as enhancing your detoxification capacity.

Fruits and Vegatables

It is also nice to know which fruits and vegetables you should never buy unless they are organic or farmed with near organic standards.  Here is the most recent list of pesticide load on commonly eaten foods, provided by the Environmental Working Group.  It is important to buy organic when purchasing foods from the top of the list – especially any in the top 15 that you eat on a regular basis.

RANK FRUIT OR VEGGIE SCORE

1 (worst) Peaches       100 (highest pesticide load)
2 Apples               96
3 Sweet Bell Peppers   86
4 Celery               85
5 Nectarines           84
6 Strawberries         83
7 Cherries             75
8 Lettuce               69
9 Grapes - Imported     68
10 Pears               65
11 Spinach             60
12 Potatoes             58
13 Carrots               57
14 Green Beans         55
15 Hot Peppers         53
16 Cucumbers           52
17 Raspberries           47
18 Plums               46
19 Oranges             46
20 Grapes-Domestic     46
21 Cauliflower           39
22 Tangerine             38
23 Mushrooms           37
24 Cantaloupe           34
25 Lemon               31
26 Honeydew Melon     31
27 Grapefruit             31
28 Winter Squash       31
29 Tomatoes             30
30 Sweet Potatoes       30
31 Watermelon           25
32 Blueberries           24
33 Papaya               21
34 Eggplant             19
35 Broccoli             18
36 Cabbage             17
37 Bananas             16
38 Kiwi                 14
39 Asparagus           11
40 Sweet Peas-Frozen   11
41 Mango                 9
42 Pineapples             7
43 Sweet Corn-Frozen     2
44 Avocado               1
45 (best) Onions           1 (lowest pesticide load)

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