An apple is an apple, right? Wrong! Many people don’t realize how much commercial agriculture has changed over the years. New pesticides and fertilizers have been introduced, and ground never lies fallow so soil becomes depleted of nutrients. I’m not even going to touch on the GMO controversy here. Sure, the government has outlined “safe” levels of toxic chemicals, but these substances are being incorporated into our produce as it grows. How safe would you like to be? Pesticides are toxic to the brain and nervous system. The toxic heavy metal, cadmium, is associated with kidney and bone disease.1 Nitrates are associated with stomach cancer.2
By buying organic, you avoid these issues and your produce will be laden with two-thirds more antioxidants than you would get from commercially grown produce3. These protective compounds include phenolic acids, flavanols, stilbenes, and anthocyanins which guard our cells against oxidative stress, DNA damage and cellular death that lead to aging and chronic disease.
Does everything you buy need to be “organic”? Often these products are a fair bit more expensive than their commercial “cousins”, of course. To help you make that call, each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) produces a list of the “dirtiest” and “cleanest” fruits and vegetables on the market. My colleague, Dr David Blyweiss, has compiled two lists summarizing the EWG recommendations. He calls them the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen”. 4 The Dirty Dozen have tested highest in pesticide residue. The Environmental Working Group estimates you can reduce your health risks by about 80% if you go organic when buying these fruits and vegetables:
3.Sweet Bell Peppers
Green Beans, Kale, Collards, Leafy Greens
Now, for the “Clean Fifteen”. You can buy these fruits and vegetables commercially, as long as you either peel them or wash them. There are soaps specifically formulated to safely clean fruits and vegetables of pesticide residue, and leave no after-taste. Alternatively, you can make up a simple solution of vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and water to rinse these items off.
The quality of the food you ingest really does make a difference!
Your partner in Living Longer Better,
Dr. Grant Pagdin, MD
2.Katan MB. “Nitrate in foods: harmful or healthy?” Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul;90(1):11-12
3.”New study finds significant differences between organic and non-organic food.” News Release. Newcastle University. Jul 2014.
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