Unfortunately, more than half of what we eat on a daily basis has some type of pesticide or environmental contamination. Since there are no real studies that cover the long-term damage of a lifetime of chemical contamination consumption, it seems prudent to at least reduce this exposure until we know its effects. Buying food is expensive, and sometimes a completely organic diet is impossible as well as unrealistic. However, there are some food products that are better bought organic when possible, and they include:
- Milk, Cream and Butter: This seems silly because everyone knows that we don’t spray pesticides on cows, right? However, the feed consumed by the dairy cows is treated with various chemicals and cows themselves are given antibiotics, as well as other drugs, to promote more milk production. All these unwanted additions are stored in great quantities in the cow’s fat—which then end up in our glass of milk and creamed coffee.
- Strawberries: This is the most seriously contaminated crop in the United States with sometimes over 500 lbs of pesticides dumped per acre of strawberries. People should always buy organic, and in season, strawberries. If the berries are not in season locally, then they have been even more heavily sprayed in other countries for shipping.
- Apples: This fruit comes a close second to strawberries for contamination. There is a trend towards not spraying apples in various orchards, but the risk still exists. Apples are usually consumed every day by most people so it is the extent of exposure that also forms the risk. The best course is to peel your non-organic apples since most of the toxins are in the skin. Avoid drinking too much apple juice as well, unless labelled organic.
- Rice: Although this staple is becoming safer after a certain pesticide was banned in 1984, it still has issues with contamination. It is very difficult to wash pesticide and herbicide contamination off of rice before cooking.
- Grapes: This fruit is sprayed several times during the growth cycle. Grapes are quite fragile, so many of the chemicals used on them are supposed to get the fruit to market in a state that is visually appealing and unmarked. This layer of contamination is an issue in wine production as well as on the fruit itself.
- Lettuces and Greens: These foods can be particularly harmful because people consume almost the entire surface of the plant. They cannot be peeled and need to be extensively washed and soaked before consumption.
- Peaches, Cherries, Plums: Insects love sweet fruit and farmers spray these delicate stone fruit to keep the bugs away. The thin delicate skins of these fruits are very absorbent, so those chemicals cannot be removed by washing.
- Nightshade family: Peppers and tomatoes are eaten often in our diet, and the pesticides used on these vegetables and fruit are absorbed into the food or waxed over (peppers) and so can’t be washed off. Try to buy pasta sauces made with organic produce when possible to limit exposure.
- Pineapple and Mango: These absorbent fruits have pesticides inside, not only on the skin. Many countries growing these foods are not as heavily regulated as the USA, so pesticide use is widespread and the contamination is heavy.
- Celery: This low-calorie watery vegetable is a perfect environment for pesticide residue. Always buy organic and then snack without the worry that over 80% of non-organic celery samples are contaminated with chemicals.
- Wheat: This staple grain is heavily treated to protect it while stored for processing. Many nutritionists think that so-called wheat allergy symptoms are actually a reaction to the pesticide residue. Read labels on pasta, cereals and breads to make sure your exposure to unhealthy additives is limited.
Some other questionable products that should be purchased organic include seafood, coffee, bananas, and anything imported, such as melons. Keep in mind that food should contribute to good health, and not damage the body with chemicals.