Saturday, September 17, 2011

Eating Organic

The production of synthetic chemicals, among them pesticides, has gone from 1 million ton in 1930 to over 200 million tons today. The amount of pesticides and chemical food additives we are exposed to regularly is staggering. Yet it's easy to forget and not think about. After all these chemicals are odorless, tasteless, have no color and there is not simple way for us to detect them in our food. But ignoring it, doesn't make it go away. In the US researchers have identified 148 toxic chemicals in the blood and urine of people or all ages. And it's not just pesticides that end up in our food, as Dr. Wentz writes in his book The Healthy Home "Every time you eat meat you are likely drugging yourself with antibiotics". In 2008 the US used 35 million pounds of antibiotics, and 70 % of that went to cows, chickens and pigs that we eat. These are the same antibiotics used on humans, which decreases their effectiveness. So eating organically raised meat is very important. If you find that to be a bit expensive, cutting back on your meat consumption might not be such a bad thing anyway. A long term study of 91,000 nurses over twelve years showed that the risk of breast cancer for those who ate red meat more than once a day was twice as high as for those who ate it less than three times a week.
I understand that eating all organic is an ideal, which is impossible to achieve for most people. I know I can't afford to eat 100% organic, so had to do some research to find out which food is most contaminated and therefore important that I buy organic. There are many lists of most contaminated foods available online that can help you decide what to buy organic and what foods are less contaminated. One of these resources is the Environmental Working Group ( who developed the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen" (

The Dirty Dozen are foods that are most likely to test positive for pesticides and are highly contaminated. As an example, peaches have been treated with more chemicals than any other produce. Tests have shown combinations of 57 different chemicals.
The Clean Fifteen are vegetables and fruits that are least likely to test positive for pesticides and generally show less contamination.

The Dirty Dozen:

Nectarines - Imported
Grapes - Imported
Sweet Bell Peppers
Blueberries - Domestic
Kale/Collard Greens

The Clean Fifteen:

Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas
Cantaloupe - Domestic
Sweet Potatoes


  1. Hey Flo:
    Just wanted to make a note coming from someone around food for a living. The term organic doesn't actually mean that it contains no chemicals. It just means that it contains the amount or less that is required to be called "organic". Being organic doesn't mean 100% free from pesticides, herbicides etc. As far as I am concerned organic is just marketing. In my humble opinion we are better off growing our own food, or buying directly from the local mennonite or butcher and not from big grocery stores.

    That's my 2 cents worth. Take it or leave it.

    PS: I love this new blog you are doing.

    Josh K
    (you will know me from Crescent Spur 08/09)

  2. When you say "imported" or "domestic," what perspective are you speaking from?