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12 Foods You Must Eat Organic

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These foods look healthy, but unless organic, they have the highest levels of toxicity.

12 Foods You Must Eat Organic (“Dirty Dozen”)

This list of foods is called the “Dirty Dozen” and is updated each year at EWG’s Shopper’s Guide. The below list was last updated for 2013.

1. Apples: This healthy powerfood has to look perfect, or many consumers get suspicious. New to the top toxic spot, apples are susceptible to more than 30 insects and at least 10 diseases, so conventional apples are sprayed many times during the growing season. Fungicides and other chemicals are also added after picking to prevent tiny blemishes that can accumulate during storage of up to 9 months. (Read the possible Apple Benefits.)

2. Strawberries: They are delicate and prone to disease, including fungal attacks that can turn them to mush during transit and storage. Millions of pounds of methyl bromide are used every year by California strawberry growers. It damages the ozone layer, so it is banned in many parts of the world. “This chemical has an uncanny ability to damage DNA, which creates a host of problems, ranging from reproductive effects to cancer and neurological damage,” explains Gina Solomon, MD, MPH, chief scientist at Natural Resources Defense Council. “Since the chemical is also highly volatile, it is easy for it to drift and affect workers and nearby communities.

3. Grapes: To prevent that easily-occurring rot, farmers spray aggressively with fungicides. The USDA Pesticide Data Program found 34 pesticide residues.

4. “Celery: “Nobody likes to find a caterpillar-damaged stalk in their celery bunch,” says Stuart Reitz, PhD, a research entomologist with the USDA. There are 64 pesticide residues found on celery.

5. Peaches: Farmers may spray peaches every week or two from bloom to harvest—and peach fuzz can trap pesticides says peach breeder John R. Clark, PhD, a horticulturalist at the University of Arkansas, who peels every one of the thousands of peaches he eats each year. The USDA Pesticide Data Program found 62 pesticide residues.

6. Nectarines: They are closely related to peaches, so they have the same weakness and “need” the same chemical support.

7. Sweet Bell Peppers: The creases in their crowns hold pesticides, so they soak in. They also have less insect-deterring compounds in them.

8. Nectarines.

Spinach: Those green leaves are loved by grasshoppers and other insects, and the plants themselves suck up chemicals from the soil. For example, spinach has been shown to contain DDT from the soil, even though DDT was banned over 10 years ago. (You don’t just want to pass on spinach, though. It’s too healthy, as you can read here: Spinach Health Benefits)

9. Cucumbers: Without spraying, they can be very delicate. The USDA Pesticide Data Program found 35 pesticide residues.

10. Potatoes: They are sprayed 5 or more times throughout the growing season to protect against various pests. After harvesting, another round of spraying occurs in the packing shed to ward off mold.

11.Cherry Tomatoes.

12. Hot Peppers

Extra foods on the “dangerous” list:

13.Blueberries – domestic. The berries are targets for insects such as blueberry maggots and bagworms. The USDA Pesticide Data Program found 52 pesticide residues

14.Lettuce: There are large surface areas to protect. The USDA Pesticide Data Program found 51 pesticide residues.

17. Cherries: If just one of the western cherry maggots is found in a shipment, the entire load of fruit must be dumped, so growers spray out of fear of losing their crops.

Check out more about the USDA Pesticide Data Program here.

If you are familiar with Star Wars, this video, Grocery Store Wars, is a great spoof with a strong message supporting organic farming. A movie from not so long ago, in a supermarket not so far away… Join the adventures of Cuke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Cannoli, Chewbroccoli and the rest of the Organic Rebels fighting against Darth Tader and the Dark Side of the Farm.

 

Next page: 15 foods that are comparatively safe.

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Diana Herrington

Diana Herrington turned a debilitating health crisis into a passion for helping others with healthy, sugar-free, gluten-free, eating and cooking. After testing and researching every possible healthy therapy on her delicate system she has developed simple, powerful principles which she shares in her recent book Eating Green and Lean, and as host to Care2 groups: Healthy Living Network and Healthy Cooking. She is the head chef at Real Food for Life, where she shares recipes and tips. Sign up for the Real Food for Life weekly newsletter or catch her on Facebook or Twitter (@DancinginLife).

108 comments

+ add your own
3:16AM PDT on Apr 18, 2013

Тhank you so much for this informative article, there are many aspects to it indeed.

1:21PM PDT on Apr 4, 2013

Monsanto is a dirty word. The almighty dollar is all that counts.They may destroy the planet to finance one more lavish home or vacation but as long as they have fun,what do billions of deaths mean? Their altered foods are eliminating the native unaltered foods. I grow as much of my own food as I can. When you can trust your legislators,you know you can't trust Monsanto.

1:20PM PDT on Apr 4, 2013

Monsanto is a dirty word. The almighty dollar is all that counts.They may destroy the planet to finance one more lavish home or vacation but as long as they have fun,what do billions of deaths mean? Their altered foods are eliminating the native unaltered foods. I grow as much of my own food as I can. When you can trust your legislators,you know you can't trust Monsanto.

12:45PM PST on Feb 21, 2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVrIyEu6h_E
Farmers Markets are a big help

11:17AM PST on Feb 13, 2013

Sharing

6:46AM PDT on Sep 22, 2012

If you can afford them.

9:48AM PDT on Sep 12, 2012

Tammy: High-five to the manual labourers who toil in the fields, ingesting these noxious chemicals.
I'm glad I have a garden to grow my own bounty, without chemical pestisides and fungicides.

10:04AM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

why doesn't anyone ever list WORKERS' HEALTH as a reason to buy organic? People only seem interested in how to avoid putting pesticides into their own bodies, but don't even consider what health risks there are for the people who plant, care for and harvest all that produce. Manual labourers who usually work for low wages and no health care are at a much higher risk from these chemicals than the people who ingest the residue off washed produce.

I am all for organic, but why not emphasize the real dangers here? Because poor people don't count as much as rich people who can afford to buy everything organic?

9:08AM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

Good to know I try to stay updated with my dirty dozen.

8:58AM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

i need a garden

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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