Organic Foods: Tips for Buying Organically
Tips for buying organically ...
Buying organic foods can be expensive, and some produce is less likely to be contaminated than others. In order to stay within budget, many of us may have to focus on eliminating (or buying organic) those foods with the highest amounts of pesticides, chemicals, additives, and hormones. Below are some more useful tips ...
- Purchase from your local farmer’s markets, not your supermarket.
- Join a community-supported agriculture program if one is available near you (it allows you to buy produce, meats, and other foods directly from the farm)
- Plant a garden; even a small space can produce a lot of fresh food
- If you must shop in a supermarket, look for locally grown items, which are likely to be fresher than other foods
Below listed are the MOST and the LEAST contaminated food items.
- Produce that isn't listed below is somewhere in between. When deciding whether or not to go "organic," the thickness of the peel/skin is important. For example, citrus fruits have thick skins that protect them for the most part from any pesticides seeping in. However, if you are using their skin in your recipes (i.e., lemon zest), then you would be well advised to buy them organic. Produce with thin/porous skins will soak up any chemicals, and washing won't help much.
- To the right are additional tips for reducing contaminants in your food.
- For a list of chemicals in our food, typical foods associated with those chemicals, and the effects they may have on our health, please visit this webpage.
- Download this helpful Shopper's Guide
- Shoppers Guide to Pesticides - The Full List
The LEAST Contaminated Foods - No Need to Buy Organic
The following food items are the least contaminated food items that you don't necessarily need to purchase organic.
- Vegetables: Asparagus, Avocados, Broccoli, Cabbage, Onions (Please note: Avocados are extremely nutritious for us, but are toxic to birds!)
- Fruits: Bananas, Kiwi Fruit, Mango, Papaya, Pineapples
The MOST Contaminated Foods - Best Buy Organic
The following food items are the most contaminated food items that you should always buy organic.
One of the foods that health practitioners recommend for good health and longevity is fish and yet, increasingly so, it is becoming one of the most contaminated protein sources in the world.
- Click here to find out what fish to eat and which ones to avoid at all costs.
- The Danger of Red Meat / Processed Meats:
Antibiotics & Hormones: Animals destined for food production are exposed to antibiotics, growth hormones, and steroids that will end up in the meat that we eat. The long-term effects on us are largely unknown but the inherent danger is undisputed.
Preservatives: Also, manufacturers add color-fixer chemicals, such as Sodium Nitrate, to preserve meats and also to keep the red color of the meat -- without this, the meat would turn grey, which would obviously keep consumers from buying it.
The USDA tried to ban the chemical Sodium Nitrate in the 1970s but was unsuccessful due to lobbyists. Researchers actually use Sodium Nitrate to induce cancer in lab animals so that they can research this disease. So, together with the meat, we are actually eating substances known to cause "cancer."
Pesticides: Animals (chicken, pork, cows, etc.) raised for the meat market using traditional methods are generally provided feed that is grown with the help of pesticides.
***Summary & Recommendations: Whatever toxins the food animals eat may end up in you. Therefore, the options are to either change over to a vegetarian diet, or, alternatively, to buy organic meats from animals that have been raised without the use of growth factors, antibiotics and steroids - commonly referred to as "free-range." These animals should be fed on natural, pesticide-free grass without the use of chemicals. This recommendation also applies to eggs and other dairy products. For the sake of your family's health and for humanitarian reasons that dictate that all living beings are entitled to humane treatment, it's best to buy organic/free-range or switch to a vegetarian lifestyle.
Studies show that just one sausage a day can significantly raise your risk of bowel cancer, one of the deadliest forms of the disease, according to an analysis by the World Cancer Research Fund. Eating 1.8 ounces of processed meat daily - about one sausage or three pieces of bacon - raises the likelihood of cancer by a fifth. Processed meats may also trigger cancer in the prostate, lung, stomach, and esophagus.
Processed meats include bacon, ham, pastrami, salami, and hot dogs. Sausages and hamburgers can also fall into the category if they have been preserved with salt or chemical additives. The analysis also found that red meat raises the risk of bowel cancer but to a lesser extent. Processing raises levels of cancer-causing chemicals called N-nitroso compounds, making bacon, sausages, and other processed meats more deadly. The World Cancer Research Fund recommends people avoid eating all processed meats. According to estimates, if everyone cut down on red and processed meat, one in 10 cases of bowel cancer could be prevented. (Ref.: Daily Mail March 31, 2008, World Cancer Research Fund: Food Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective November 2007)
Also, many farmers feed their animals corn and soybeans to fatten them up for slaughter. A recent comprehensive study found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Milk and Dairy Products
Milk Products: A recent European-wide study on Quality Low Input Food (QLIF) has found that levels of antioxidants in milk produced by organically-raised cattle were 50 to 80 percent higher than in normal milk.
The fat in dairy products is another haven for pesticides, antibiotics and bovine growth hormones. These get passed on to you through commercial milk, cheese, and butter. Organic dairies do not use chemicals or growth hormones like rGBH or rbST.
Not-so-organic! If humane farming practices are important to you, educate yourself on the manufacturers of the organic products you buy. For example one of the major manufacturers of "organic milk": Horizon (Dean’s) organic milk - actually comes from factory-style dairy farms where the animals are kept in intensive confinement and have been imported from conventional farms as calves. The corporation's practices are described as packing as many as 8,000 cattle onto feedlots, with little or no access to pasture, and then misleadingly labeling these products as "organic". The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) filed a letter with USDA supporting a legal complaint that calls for an investigation of the two factory farms that the Horizon organic dairy company manages and sources for a significant portion of their "organic" dairy products.
Many of the beans you buy are grown in countries that don't regulate the use of chemicals and pesticides.
Look for the Fair Trade Certified label on the coffee package or can; it will give you some assurance that chemicals and pesticides were not used on the plants. It will also mean that fair prices were paid for the end product in support of the farm that supplied the coffee and that the farm workers are treated fairly.
- Also refer this information: "Decaf - Doing More Harm than Good? and Health Benefits & The Downside of Coffee"
Fruits:Apples and Pears
The FDA states that more pesticides are found on apples than are found on any other fruit or vegetable. When the Environmental Working Group tested conventionally grown apples, they discovered as many as 36 pesticides on the apples. The pesticides that were detected have been linked to damages to the human reproductive system, damages to the brain and nervous system, including decreased intelligence and increased attention problems in children, and damages to the immune system. Studies from Britain and France reveal organic apples have greater concentrations of nutrients. Cornell University researchers concluded that apple consumption could be an effective strategy for cancer prevention and that the phytonutrients in organic apples may actually reduce breast tumors.
Scrubbing and peeling a fruit doesn't eliminate chemical residue completely so it's best to buy organic when it comes to apples.
Blueberries are treated with up to 52 pesticides and are now considered one of the dirtiest berries on the market.
Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically.
Vineyards can be sprayed with 35 different pesticides during different growth periods during the season and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape's permeable thin skin.
Peaches & Nectarines:
Peaches have the highest pesticide load. Nectarines are not far behind. Forty-five different pesticides are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards.
Cantaloupes often are contaminated by five of the longest-lasting chemicals. Dieldrin, a very toxic and carcinogenic insecticide, still gets absorbed through its roots even though this toxin was banned in 1974.
Strawberries & Cherries
Strawberry plantations average a dose of up to 500 pounds of pesticides per acre.
Methyl Bromide is a pesticide used mainly on strawberries, found predominantly in California areas. Bromide is a common endocrine disruptor. As bromide is a halide, it competes for the same receptors that are used in the thyroid gland to capture iodine, thus inhibiting thyroid hormone production and resulting in a low thyroid state (Hypothyroidism). Other sources of bromide: Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) is added to citrus drinks to help suspend the flavoring in the liquid. Potassium Bromate is a dough conditioner found in commercial bakery products and some flours.
If you buy strawberries out of season, they're most likely imported from countries that use less-than-stringent regulations for pesticide use.
Celery has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the twenty-nine different chemicals that are used on conventional crops.
According to the Environmental Working Group's 2006 report "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce," celery is among the 12 foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid the consumption of celery unless it is grown organically.
Leafy greens are frequently contaminated with the most potent pesticides used on food.
There are over 60 pesticides that are registered for use on green beans in the U.S.
Cucumbers were ranked the 12th most contaminated food and the second in cancer risk due to their pesticide content.
Winter squash is often contaminated by Dieldrin, a very toxic and carcinogenic insecticide. It still gets absorbed through its roots even though this toxin was banned in 1974.
Root vegetables, such as potatoes, rank highest for pesticide residue. They absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides in the soil. Potatoes, for example, are treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they're dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting.
Sweet Bell Peppers
Peppers have thin skins that don't offer much of a barrier to pesticides.
They are one of the most heavily sprayed vegetables out there and may be coated with nearly 40 commonly used pesticides meant to keep them insect-free.
Their easily punctured skins are no match for chemicals that will eventually permeate the whole tomato.
Also avoid CANNED tomatoes. The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A (BPA) - a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to a variety of health problems, including reproductive problems, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The primary characteristic of tomatoes is their acidity which draws BPA out of the lining and allows it to leach into the tomatoes.
Non-organic baby foods are typically made with fruits and vegetables that have been treated with chemicals. The immune system of infants is less developed than that of adults. Therefore, they are more vulnerable to toxins.
The lining of the bag the popcorn contains a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize and migrate into your popcorn.
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