Eating organic fruits and vegetables is beneficial for optimum health, but pesticides used on non-organic produce present health risks, especially to children. Toxicity from pesticides disrupts the normal functioning of the nervous and endocrine system, and many health experts believe that it increases the risks of cancer.
All organic, all the time, however, may not be realistic for many. Cost can be a huge factor, of course, as can availability. Sticking to local and seasonal produce goes a long way in keeping cost lower and the environment and your health happy. Many small farms, while not technically organic due to stringent and expensive federal guidelines, practice the principles of organic gardening.
In buying fresh produce, there are a few common sense rules that help, suggests Patricia Wells in her newly released My Master Recipes. For example, citrus is often heavily sprayed with insecticides, but the thick skin on lemons or limes protects the interior, so, if you are just using the citrus juice, non-organic is fine. But if you want to zest the lemon peel, go organic. The same can be said of many tropical fruits. Their thick heavy skins resist pesticides, so non-organic can work.
Below are two lists, compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health, of the safest produce as well as produce with the highest pesticide load
The Dirty Dozen Plus (2017)
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
The Clean 15 (2017)
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Honeydew melon