Does Organic Really Matter?

photo(12)Just the other day I had a conversation with my 81 year old father who said he hasn’t been to a doctor in 30 years, and he has eaten regular ‘non-organic’ food all his life. He said, “All of this talk about eating organic and spending the extra money to get pesticide free food, is it something to worry about or is it just a bunch of paranoid new age hippies making a big deal about nothing? Surely the government wouldn’t allow something in our food system that is toxic. Plus, I wash my fruits and vegetables anyway. What’s the big deal?  I’ve lived a long and healthy life without it.”  Let’s just say the produce we eat now ain’t the same produce that our parents ate.

In the 21st century when you purchase non-organic food you are buying a side of pesticides with your meal.  If that doesn’t bother you then go ahead and load up.  I mean, what fun is life without a few risks? But when it is a life or death risk you may want to make sure it is an informed decision.  Recently, the Environmental Working Group released the new 2015 rankings on pesticides in our produce based on testing by the USDA and the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Here are some facts from the 2015 EWG report:

  • Nearly two-thirds of produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture  contained pesticide residues.
  • A recent study shows people who buy organic produce have lower levels of insecticides in their bodies.
  • USDA tests found a total 165 different pesticides on thousands of fruit and vegetables.
  • Pesticides persisted on fruits and vegetables tested by USDA, even when they were washed and, in some cases, peeled.
  • A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
  • The U.S. has no special rules for pesticide residues in baby food.
  • Research links pesticide exposures in early life to “pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.”

Personally, considering the amount of french fries and potato chips consumed in this country, I find the most disturbing fact is that the average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce, and you can’t wash or peel off the poison.  Why do they do this to our potatoes? Well, the consumer won’t buy an ugly potato and the pesticides prevent the bugs from imbibing.

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To learn more check out the EWG report here.  The short list of the most pesticide infested produce, and also what non-organic produce is safe to purchase, is called “The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen”.  If you are interested in receiving a copy of this list in a nifty pocket size card check it out here.