The Dirty Dozen
Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases its annual Dirty Dozen List, a list of foods with high pesticide loads, or in other words pesticide infused groceries. With this in mind, these are the foods that one should most seriously consider buying organic. The group analysed data from the U.S Department of Agriculture to find that almost two-thirds of the samples tested were found to contain pesticide residues, despite a high demand for pesticide-free food. The Dirty Dozen List ranks foods based on their pesticide residue levels, and each of these foods tested positive for pesticide residues of one form or another.
- Sweet bell peppers
The Clean Fifteen
On the other hand, we have the EWG Clean Fifteen List, a list o foodstuffs with the lowest load of pesticides. While one might say that it these are foods that you can safely buy off any supermarket shelf, organic or not, bear in mind that this is a relative listing of the foods with the lowest amount of pesticides, not that they are pesticide-free by any means.
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet peas
- Papayas (Pawpaw)
- Honeydew Melon
- Cantaloupe (Sweet melon/spanspek)
Naturally, the EWG encourages smart shopping choices, and the organic option means fewer pesticides in your diet. There has been much debate as to whether organic produce is better for you. While it is difficult to substantiate whether organic foods are more nutritious, it stands to reason that just by virtue of the fact that organic standards limit the types of pesticides that can be used, it can, therefore, be inferred that fewer harmful substances are absorbed by the produce, and fewer toxins and harmful chemicals end up in your body.
Organic certification encourages preventative practices that include crop rotation, mixed plantings and beneficial insects to manage pests and maintain and improve soil quality. This is certainly not to say that no pesticides are used in organically certified produce, as both conventional and organic farming typically relies on the use of pesticides as a last resort to control pests and diseases on crops, but organic farmers rather use pesticides derived from natural sources or pesticides that include synthetic substances within regulations.