Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive a small commission to fund my avocado habit if you use these links to make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. You wont be charged any extra, and you will be keeping me supplied with avocados. Win win, really! I only ever recommend products, tools and services that I personally use and love. You can read my full affiliate disclosure HERE.
Is Organic Healthy?
So, you’re concerned about the pesticides in your food and the effect this might be having on you and your family. You head to the nearest organic grocery shop and pile up your basket with healthy, nutritious, organic fruits and veggies. You feel that warm glow as you skip home with your wholesome goodies to whip up some pesticide-free meals. You’re turning a blind eye to the hole you just put in your wallet, because goddamnit…
Organic is healthy!
NEWSFLASH: “Organic” doesn’t have anything to do with the nutritional value of food. If a food is labelled as organic, it simply indicates how it was created, prepared or raised without any:
- Genetically modified (GMO) ingredients
- Radiation exposure
- Routine antibiotic use in the case of livestock
- Chemical food additives
- Industrial solvents
- Synthetic chemicals to kill bugs and weeds
- Sewage sludge(!)
BUT that doesn’t mean there are no pesticides used at all in organic farming, it just means that the pesticides used came from a naturally occurring source (as opposed to synthetic chemicals).
This two-minute video sums it up pretty nicely.
The “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen”
This is probably something you’re familiar with. The concept of the ‘Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” was first coined by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organisation and American activist group, in 1995. Each year, they produce these lists showing which fruits and vegetables have the most (dirty), and least (clean), number of pesticide residues on them.
The EWG’s 2020 “Dirty Dozen”
The EWG’s 2020 “Clean 15”
- Peas (frozen)
- Aubergine (eggplant)
- Cantaloupe melon
- Honeydew melon
Now, there is some controversy over this, with claims that the EWG is misrepresenting the risks to health and scaremongering, but it would be fair to point out that some of the anti-EWG info out there has been written by people who have a vested interest in conventional farming or the products used in it.
However, a 2011 peer-reviewed study of the EWG’s data states that “While conventional produce was between 2.9 and 4.8 times more likely to contain detectable pesticide residues than organic produce… the ten most frequently detected pesticides on EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” commodity list are at negligible levels”.
To my mind, there’s no smoke without fire and the EWG didn’t just arbitrarily pick these 12 fruits and veggies, so I do buy organic foods from the dirty dozen list when possible. If it’s not possible, I simply sanitise the fruit and veg in a baking soda bath – just pop a tablespoon or two of baking soda into a tub of clean cold water for 10-15 minutes and give the harder-skinned items a bit of a scrub. Do this just before you want to eat the items though, as storing moist produce can make it go mouldy.
Is organic healthy? The bottom line
Fruit and vegetables are a crucial part of a healthy diet and should form a large proportion of the foods we eat every day. Don’t avoid eating them because they’re not organic!
Meat and dairy are a different ball-game. I recommend making this non-negotiable and always buying these items grass-fed and organic (if you eat animal products) because the routine antibiotics and hormones given to livestock isn’t good for the animals and it sure as hell isn’t good for us. In the healthiest of diets, animal products are eaten in limited quantities, so it seems like a reasonable recommendation to say you should buy the best quality organic meat, eggs and dairy that you can afford.