The food cooked in my house is pretty close to being 100% organic. We strive to minimize our pesticide exposure as much as we possibly can due to its many dangers. Health risks from pesticide exposure include the following (but not limited to):
- brain and nervous system toxicity
- hormone disruption
- skin, eye and lung irritation
Pesticides are designed to kill living organisms (pests – insects, plants, fungi) and they do just that. I consider myself a living organism so why would I want to eat something that is designed to kill? It has been proven that pesticides pose health risks to humans. To me, its a no-brainer – avoid pesticides at all costs.
The popular argument against buying all organic food is the cost. Yes, it is a bit more money at the grocery store but it is less money and pain later in health care costs and illness.
Another reason why people may not purchase organic foods is that it might not be available. I have encountered this problem myself when traveling and don't have a local farm resource.
Eating fruits and vegtables is a super important part of a healthy diet so if your issue is cost or availability you should not avoid eating them all together. One thing you can do is use the Environmental Working Group's research on the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 to minimize your risk (see the chart below).
Cost. If your main concern when buying organic is the cost, then you can use this guide to help you save money. You will see the cleanest vegetable is onions. If you are in the store and you see that conventional onions are a lot cheaper then organic onions then you should purchase the conventional onions (only if your main concern is cost – if your concern is pesticide exposure always buy organic). In this case you can save a little money on buying onions and use the money you saved to buy organic apples because apples have the most pesticide residue on them out of all fruits and vegetables so you never want to buy conventional apples.
Availability. If I am in a place where I can't get all organic food I use this guide to help me. For example, if I am looking for fruit to snack on in the summer time and there are no organic fruits available I would choose to buy cantaloupe instead of peaches because peaches are very high on the dirty list and cantaloupe has a decent rank on the clean list. My main point here in this post is to help you minimize pesticide exposure but another thing to consider is the seasonality of the fruit. It's always best to eat fruit that is in season and even better to eat fruit that is locally grown.
Download your own printable version of this guide here: Enviornmental Working Group's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides and Produce