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Organic Food – What’s All the Fuss?

You may be noticing a greater focus on organic foods these days, but are they really necessary? I think so. Conventional farming relies on the use of fungicides, insecticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. As a result, conventionally grown food often contains chemical residues which can be harmful to us.

There are conflicting opinions over whether exposure to these chemicals on a dietary level is dangerous, but experts say that consumers should use caution. That’s because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 90 percent of fungicides, 60 percent of herbicides, and 30 percent of insecticides to be carcinogenic (promotes the development of cancer). Some health disturbances linked to these chemicals include genetic and immune system damage, neurotoxicity, disruption of the endocrine system, damage in a developing nervous system, and brain and disruption of the reproductive system. Pesticide exposure has also been linked to miscarriages in women.

Organic farming uses natural fertilizers and natural methods to grow crops and to protect them from insects and disease instead of chemicals. Studies have found significantly higher nutrients in organic produce, including Vitamin C, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus. Organic foods have also been shown to contain higher levels of phenolic compounds, which are a group of antioxidants that have been shown to be ten times more efficient at mopping up free radicals than Vitamin C or E.

Organic produce does cost more than conventionally farmed produce. If you must buy conventional produce, you can reduce (but never eliminate) your pesticide exposure by thoroughly washing all fruits and vegetables. Peeling the skin off of fruits and vegetables and removing outer leaves will also help reduced exposure. If you want to be selective in your organic buying, stick with the following list which has been identified as having the highest levels of pesticides by the Environmental Working Group.

Fruit:
Peaches
Apples
Strawberries
Nectarines
Pears
Cherries
Red Raspberries
Imported Grapes

Vegetables:
Spinach
Bell Pepper
Celery
Potatoes
Hot Peppers

Happy eating!

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