Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
There’s no two ways about it: we pay through the nose for our organics.
But it’s worth every penny when the conventional counterparts are laced with toxic chemicals. That’s good value, regardless of the premium. Have you checked the sticker price of cancer lately?
But an all-organic diet isn’t always practical or available, much less affordable. Thankfully, there are times when it’s not essential. With some foods, there’s room for compromise.
There’s a good rule of thumb when you’re choosing produce: if it’s thin-skinned, leafy, porous, or has a lot of cracks and crevices, you want to go organic. Pesticides tend to leech into the flesh or get trapped in the openings, and even with careful washing and peeling there’s no way to avoid ingesting a good-sized dose.
Reduce your total pesticide exposure by 80% with these organic fruits and vegetables:
•Apples •Cherries •Grapes (imported) •Nectarines •Peaches
•Pears •Raspberries •Strawberries
•Bell Pepper •Celery •Potatoes •Spinach
The flesh of thicker-skinned, husked, or podded fruits and vegetables are less susceptible to most contaminations, cold weather crops are grown when pests are less prevalent, and tree fruits often require fewer pesticides because they’re high above the ground where they’re less susceptible to insects.
You can safely stretch your grocery budget with the conventionally-grown versions of these:
•Avocados •Pineapple •Mangos •Papaya •Kiwi •Grapefruit
•Onions •Sweet Corn •Asparagus •Peas • Cabbage •Eggplant
•Broccoli •Tomatoes •Sweet Potatoes
Conventional processed foods can be a minefield of toxins and contaminants, but it’s impractical if not impossible to keep track of the safer choices among the ever-changing selections and brands. The FDA performs pesticide residue monitoring, but the allowable levels that meet federal safety guidelines are still pretty hefty, to say nothing of the various and sundry dyes, preservatives, and other additives.
You can keep your sanity in the supermarket while still limiting the toxins with a few key recommendations:
This should be a no-brainer. Baby foods are often cooked and condensed versions of fruits and vegetables, intensifying the chemical levels present in the ingredients. Factor in the baby’s small body size and they can pack a real wallop. Since toxins can also pass through a mother’s bloodstream to a developing fetus, the switch to organics should start in pregnancy.
Insects love grains, so it takes a lot of insecticides to keep them at bay. Malathion is especially popular with food processors, showing up in most conventional, grain-based packaged foods like bread, saltines, graham crackers, tortillas, cookies, and breakfast cereals. School lunches are full of it; so are doggie flea dips and head lice shampoo, but there its links to lower IQ and ADHD are less troubling.
Beef, cheese, tomatoes, and pasta—four of the big chemical carriers join forces in a single dish. Popular brands even contain DDT-class pesticides. Have you read Silent Spring?
•Pick your poison
Is it chips and salsa? Ice cream? Coffee? What’s your personal favorite indulgence? If you eat a lot of it or eat it often, it’s a good idea to eat it organic. A little bit of a particular toxin can be tolerated, but buildup and overexposure to a single substance can be harmful.
Organic foods can be costly, but they represent long-term investment in our health and environment. Shop strategically and you and the planet will get the most value out of those splurges.