7 Best Foods to Buy Organic

While it may seem like the organic food movement became popular over the past two decades, it is actually a much older concept. Everyone ate organic fruits and veggies before World War II, because all crops were organic. It was after that when many farmers started “conventionally” growing crops: spraying them with new, synthetic pesticides and chemicals to reduce weeds, insects and rodents. Now many of us enter the produce section with some confusion, as we are offered every fruit and veggie grown in two very different ways.

What’s the Difference Between Conventional and Organic Foods?

Conventional foods differ from organics in several ways, including the use of chemical versus natural fertilizers (i.e., compost) to feed soil and plants. Conventional farmers also use synthetic herbicides to manage weeds, while organic farmers use environmentally generated plant-killing compounds. Therefore, organic produce has significantly fewer pesticide residues than conventional produce.

The USDA organic regulations also ban the use of food additives, processing aids, and fortifying agents found in conventional foods, like artificial sweeteners and coloring, preservatives and monosodium glutamate.

1) Potatoes

When deciding which foods to buy organic, potatoes are a must. Most conventionally-grown have one of the highest pesticide contents among fruits and veggies. The USDA discovered 81 percent of potatoes tested in 2006 contained pesticides even after being washed and peeled.

2) Beef

When animals are conventionally raised, they are fed growth hormones and medications to fight disease and speed growth, which inevitably end up in our hamburgers and our bodies. The hormones push cows’ estrogen and testosterone levels unnaturally high. In turn, those hormones can possibly have strong effects on our natural body processes. The European Union actually banned all hormones in beef. On the other hand, organic farmers try to match the natural behavior of animals and permit access to the outdoors. To reduce diseases, organic farmers take measures like rotational grazing, clean housing, and organic balanced diets with no animal by products.

3) Milk

To increase the quantity of milk produced, cows raised conventionally are given rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), which is banned in the European Union and Canada, among others. While there is no solid scientific evidence rBGH can harm us, it may benefit us to drink milk free of rBGH given the American Cancer Society has determined the potential harm to humans is inconclusive and rBGH can cause adverse health effects in cows.

4) Apples

Apple peel is one of this popular tree fruit’s healthiest parts, offering phytochemicals that can reduce risk of cancer and heart disease. Unfortunately, the peel is where pesticides accumulate, putting apples at the top of the organic foods priority list.

5) Strawberries

Do you wonder why the conventional strawberries sometimes appear a bit brighter in color than their organic counterparts? It’s because some of them are enhanced with a substance containing the contaminant fungicide captan. Plus, conventional strawberries with the most pesticides are often the imported ones because pesticide restrictions are not always the same in other countries.

6) Kale and Spinach

While spinach and kale offer many nutrients with very low calories, they are often sprayed with more than 20 kinds of pesticides before being tossed in our salads and cooked in our omelets. A USDA study found 58 pesticide residues are usually contained in spinach.

7) Peaches

Peaches, while juicy and delicious, are high on the list of tree fruits for being the most susceptible to pesticide residue, and usually contain levels above the legal limits. Contaminants in peaches are fungicides captan and iprodione, which have been linked to cancer.

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