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The 'Dirty' Dozen

Do you wonder if you should buy organic fruits and vegetables? I get this question all the time, but I often find myself having difficulty coming up with a yes or no answer (and the truth is I don't have one). In my opinion, there are a lot of benefits to choosing organic produce, but there are also draw backs including the cost.

What we definitely know:

  • Organic foods are produced without synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. This means that only natural pesticides can be used to protect the crops.

  • Organic foods mean no GMOs

  • Organic foods mean no use of growth hormones or antibiotics

  • There isn't enough research to know whether organic foods contain less pesticide residue than non-organics

  • There isn't enough evidence to suggest that one is healthier than the other in terms of nutrients. Both organic and non-organic foods will contain approximately the same amount of nutrients.

  • In most cases organic foods are much more expensive

  • Organic agriculture may have a smaller environmental footprint

So what should you do?

It is ultimately a personal choice, you can still consume a very healthy diet without using organic foods. Try to focus on a well balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

Read a quick Global News article here: Is buying organic really worth it?

Worried about pesticide use?

Pesticides are used to protect food from pests and diseases. There are synthetic forms of pesticide and natural forms.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency monitors the amount of pesticides utilized on food to ensure only safe levels are permitted. In Canada, we have maximum limits permitted for different types of foods to ensure safety.

Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) creates a dirty dozen and clean 15 list. It detects which fruits and vegetables have the most and least pesticide residue. Keep in mind all fruits and vegetables pesticide limit is monitored for safety. However, when buying organic isn't an option this is a good resource for limiting pesticide exposure.

2017 Dirty Dozen List:

1. Strawberries

2. Spinach

3. Nectarines

4. Apples

5. Peaches

6. Pears

7. Cherries

8. Grapes

9. Celery

10. Tomatoes

11. Sweet bell peppers

12. Potatoes

2017 Clean List:

1. Sweet Corn

2. Avocados

3. Pineapples

4. Cabbage

5. Onions

6. Sweet peas

7. Papayas

8. Asparagus

9. Mangos

10. Eggplant

11. Honeydew

12. Kiwi

13. Cantaloupe

14. Cauliflower

15. Grapefruit

To learn more information about the dirty dozen list click here. You can also download a free PDF list for yourself.

General tips for produce:

  • No matter what you buy, wash it! Wash all fruits and vegetables under running water for at least 30 seconds to help remove some of the pesticide residue.

  • Gently scrub the outer layer of fruits or vegetables to help remove some of the excess residue. '

  • Choose local fruits and vegetables when possible, generally they will have less pesticide residue than imported produce.

  • Choose organic when possible.

  • Peel fruit if you are concerned about pesticide residue (but keep in mind most of the fibre comes from the skin).

  • Try to choose more fruits and vegetables from the clean list when possible.

Bottom line: eating fruits and vegetables (regardless of organic or not) is part of a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables provide your body with many different nutrients. Always wash your fruits and vegetables and do your best to fill half your plate with them at each meal.

Cheers to happy and healthy eating.

Until next time,

Eat Right Feel Right - Angela XO


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