Until a few years ago all food was organic and what we now call ‘conventional’ was the exception. But nowadays, with the increasing industrialisation of farming and a food industry obsessed with providing consistency and convenience at the expense of nutrition and variety, that has reversed. Nowadays natural, whole food grown without the use of downstream oil and gas products (aka fertilizers and pesticides) is the exception, not the norm.
The average consumer has been persuaded via millions and millions of marketing dollars, to believe that highly processed, packaged products equate to food. And despite the fact that it is known that products such as the herbicide glyphosate can cause cancer, it is still freely used on most of the industrially farmed and heavily processed food we buy and consume.
If you are reading this, you are probably open to the concept that there is more to life than pizza and mayonnaise but that doesn’t mean it is always easy to make the right choices. The unfortunate fact is that industrialised food is cheaper and more easily available so even if you want to eat clean sometimes it is difficult to afford organic produce, or find it on the produce aisle.
Whether ‘conventional’ or organic, fruits and vegetables will always be a better choice than heavily processed and packaged products, but how can you sort out the good from the bad and the ugly? To help you prioritise your choices when fruit & veggie shopping, here is a handy Cheat Sheet showing you which fruits and vegetables you should definitely buy organic, and when you can happily go ‘conventional’. This list is based on the research done every year by the Environmental Working Group and I strongly recommend you check them out. They are full of useful information on what goes into the products we put in our mouths and onto our skin.
Beware These Foods: The Dirty Dozen
These foods have been named as the most likely to be contaminated by pesticides. If you’re on a budget, these are the foods you want to prioritise buying organic. For my part, if organic versions of these products are not available, I will think carefully before buying them.
- Sweet Bell Peppers
Safer Bets: The Clean Fifteen
These foods are the least likely to contain pesticides, according to the President’s Cancer Panel. Because of their many layers and rough outer skin, these foods are less likely to be toxic when bought conventional.
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas
- Kiwi fruit
- Sweet potatoes
- Sweet onions
Guidelines for Staying Safe When Buying Food
Most foods are much better for your body, on multiple levels, when purchased organic. They’re closer to the way nature intended, they have had to work harder to survive and therefore contain more phyto nutrients and more care has been taken to ensure that they’re raised in a natural setting.
If you’re not able to purchase organic veggies at the supermarket, farmer’s markets are a great alternative. Local farmers aren’t subjected to the same large-scale requirements of a corporate or a farm subsidized by the government. They’re usually more likely to use fewer pesticides and more natural methods when growing foods. Often, these small farmers carry organic produce, even if the label itself doesn’t say “organic.”
It’s also easier to buy foods that are in season if you have local sources. Farmers want to ensure that their stock doesn’t go bad before the next crop comes to flower. Eating seasonally is also statistically the best way to avoid food that has been genetically altered to remain fresh longer.
Where do you buy food in your neighborhood? Do you typically buy organic food? Let me know why or why not in the comments!