My patients often ask me about organics and how important it is to buy organic food. Some foods are definitely more pesticide laden than others, so I’ve done my fair share of reading to distinguish which are the best to always buy organic.
I also always direct my patients to the Environmental Working Group. It’s a wonderful resource for learning more about how environmental toxins impact our health and how we can minimize our exposure to them.
Although there is some debate about whether buying organic is in fact healthier for our bodies, organic food production is definitely healthier for the planet: most small-scale organic farms are much, MUCH easier on the environment, and more compassionate to animals.
If you’re new to buying organic or can’t quite afford to buy everything organic just yet, try picking these up:
The Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen guide to fruits and veggies has apples at the top of the list for the highest levels of pesticides. If you eat an apple a day like I do, it’s probably worth paying a little more for organic Canadian varieties, grown right here in BC.
I always try to eat for the season, and that means I only get berries in the summer (unless I freeze a bunch from the summer months). Having said that, often grocery stores will ship berries in from warmer countries that may have looser pesticide regulations. If you’re going to pick up some berries, especially in the winter, splurge for the organic varieties.
Dairy products account for a reported 60-70% of the estrogens we consume through our food, because milk naturally contains hormones passed along from dairy cows. Organically raised dairy cows are free to roam out to pasture for as much of the year as possible and graze on grass, versus dairy cattle raised on conventional farms kept in a barn or holding pen. There are also strict regulations on the use of antibiotics and other medications when organic dairy cows become ill, so you avoid ingesting any of those with your morning latte when you go organic.
In order for meat to be labeled organic, farmers are not permitted to give their livestock synthetic feed additives, antibiotics that promote growth, or food that contains animal products or waste. Meat that is grass fed contains higher amounts of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid thought to boost immune function and reduce body fat.
5.) Leafy greens
Spinach, lettuce, kale and collard greens are also on the EWG Dirty Dozen list. Because most consumers don’t like the appearance of holes or the thought of bugs in their food, conventional growers will often apply pesticides directly on the leaves. Meaning we ingest almost ALL of them when we eat our greens. YUCK!
If you can’t swing a full organic diet just yet, start implementing these changes now. Your body (and the planet) will thank you.