Living in San Francisco, I’m constantly being bombarded with “organic this” and “locally grown” that. I have actually seen stores charge $2.50 for ONE apple. No joke, $2.50 for an organic, oh-so-chic, perfectly-imperfect, Newtonian-inspired apple, grown specifically for your dinner-party bragging pleasure. “Why, yes, Jim. I did buy all this fruit at the farmer’s market. Junior won’t be going to college in the fall but doesn’t this tart look lovely?”
Still, having recently given in to this crazy evolution, I’ll admit there is something truly special about biting into a piece of organic produce. The flavors burst in your mouth and, whether this is true or a placebo effect, I actually feel the nutrients–like edible pieces of health. Plus, it’s a bit frightening that my bagged, supermarket mesclun lasts for TWO (yes, that’s correct) weeks without so much as a hint of rot. Hmm, I wonder what that’s doing to me?
However, because I live in the real world, buying organic isn’t always an option and because consuming massive amounts of hidden pesticides didn’t seem like a viable alternative either–I needed info on when to splurge. While browsing multiple consumer advocate sites, I discovered the Environmental Working Group’s compilation of the most pesticide-laden fruits and veggies. Using this list, it’s easy to see what foods to avoid or when to fork over your cash for the organic version.
5 Pesticide Foods to Avoid
1. Peaches. Conventionally farmed peaches are number one because so many pesticides are needed to grow them. Plus, their skin absorbs much of it infecting the flesh with carcinogenic chemicals that far outweigh the peach’s natural health benefits.
2. Apples. Apples are often grown in mid-western states where they are not native and as a result have not developed natural defenses to predators. Because of this, they are treated with many harmful pesticides that seep into the peel. You can always peel your apples but will lose a third of the nutrients and some of the flavor.
3. Sweet Bell Peppers. This vegetable has the highest likelihood of containing multiple pesticides, as many as 64 found on a single sample.
4. Celery. As this vegetable has no skin, the pesticides are absorbed directly into the plant. Scrubbing doesn’t help so it’s best to only buy this fresh and organic.
5. Strawberries. Their skin doesn’t absorb as much as a peach but because they are small, we don’t often wash them as carefully as we should. According to the The Organic Trade Association more than 371 pesticides are approved for use on U.S. strawberries and because they grow so close to the ground are also subject to the chemicals used on soils.
Check out the complete 45-item list here.