There is often a lot of debate about on the affect of eating organic vs non-organic with staunch supporters on each end of the debate.
The fact of the matter is, a lot of the food we eat is contaminated with pesticides, there is no getting away from that. If you don’t know what pesticides are and what they are used for, here is a little exert taken from the FAQ’s section of the governments Health and Safety Executive website:
Farmers and growers use pesticides to do various things, including:
- protecting crops from insect pests, weeds and fungal diseases while they are growing
- protecting harvested crops while they are stored
- safeguarding human health, by stopping food crops being contaminated by fungi
However, as pesticides are used to kill unwanted pests, weeds and moulds (fungi), they could also harm people, wildlife and the environment if there were not strict controls in place over their sale and use. The UK has a wide range of legislation and administrative controls governing their approval and authorisation, marketing, supply, storage and use to ensure that any risks are managed appropriately. There is more information on these controls in the answer to Q2 below.
It is up to everyone who is involved with pesticides, whether they are farmers, professional growers or gardeners, to ensure that they are used safely and effectively in line with the controls in place.
Now, there are guidelines in place on what pesticides can and can’t be used, however something I saw recently was quite disturbing. Guy Watson, Organic Farmer and Riverford Founder, posted on Instagram that 147 pesticides that he was assured were safe in the 1970’s have subsequently been banned. I am sure there are a lot stricter guidelines in place now but it is food for thought (pun intended).
In fact, it seems strange to me that organic food has to be labelled as such, surely it would make sense to label non-organic food as such stating why and what chemicals are in them to make them non-organic, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Unfortunately, organic food can be more expensive and it is not as accessible as non-organic so it is not feasible for everyone to eat organic all of the time, this is where the “Dirty Dozen” list comes in.
Every year the EWG produce a guide to pesticides in a produce report ranking the pesticide contamination of 48 popular fruits and vegetables. The full report can be read here but below is the “Dirty Dozen” followed by the “Clean Fifteen”. If eating organic is not always an options to you, try and do so for foods on the “Dirty Dozen” list and compromise this with being more relaxed about the foods on the “Clean Fifteen”.
1 – Strawberries
2 – Spinach
3 – Nectarines
4 – Apples
5 – Peaches
6 – Pears
7 – Cherries
8 – Grapes
9 – Celery
10 – Tomatoes
11 – Sweet Bell Peppers
12 – Potatoes
1 – Sweetcorn
2 – Avocadoes
3 – Pineapples
4 – Cabbage
5 – Onions
6 – Sweet Peas
7 – Papayas
8 – Asparagus
9 – Mangos
10 – Eggplant / Aubergine
11 – Honeydew Melon
12 – Kiwi
13 – Cantaloupe / Melon
14 – Cauliflower
15 – Grapefruit
Studies have shown that when eating non-organic, the body does seem to still gain all the vitamins and minerals from the food the same way as it does non-organic, this is great, but personally I would rather get these nutrients without the harmful chemicals alongside them.
With this in mind, if there is no organic version available for your favourite fruit and veg, then I would say that it is better to eat the non-organic version to still get the good nutrients rather than depriving yourself of them, but maybe try an alternative from the Clean Fifteen instead.