|Dr. Andrew Weil M.D.|
Dr. Andrew Weil has an ongoing partnership with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health. Together they are spreading the word on one of EWG’s most valuable pieces of research - a Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The list is based on the results of pesticide tests performed on produce and collected by federal agencies over 9 years.
Nearly all of the data used took into account how people typically wash and prepare produce - for example, apples were washed and bananas peeled before testing.
The Clean 15 - Foods You Don't Have to Buy Organic
Of the fruit and vegetable categories tested, the following "Clean 15" foods had the lowest pesticide load, and consequently are the safest conventionally grown crops to consume from the standpoint of pesticide contamination:
• Sweet corn
• Sweet peas (frozen)
• Cantaloupe (domestic)
• Sweet potatoes
Why should you care about pesticides? The EWG points out that there is a growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during vulnerable periods such as fetal development and childhood.
Dr. Weil maintains that pesticides are toxins and that they cannot be good for you. But the big question is how bad are they? They can be toxic to the nervous system, disrupt endocrine functions, and may increase risks of Cancer and other chronic diseases. So we should all be trying to take action to minimize our exposure to pesticides. According to Dr. Weil data supports that people who eat organic foods, find that measurable pesticide levels in their (body) tissues drop.
Dirty Dozen Plus - Foods You Should Always Buy Organic
At the opposite end of the contamination spectrum we have the "Dirty Dozen Plus". These foods had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy organic - or to grow organically yourself:
• Sweet bell peppers
• Nectarines (although Dr. Weil specifies imported)
• Cherry tomatoes
• Snap peas (imported)
Plus these which may contain organophosphate insecticides, which EWG characterizes as "highly toxic" and of special concern:
• Hot peppers
• Kale and Collard Greens
• Blueberries (Dr. Weil adds domestic blueberries to round out his list)
So how realistic is it that all people will or can afford to eat organic? There is a way to start moving in the right direction without breaking the bank.
According to Dr. Weil, if you simply shift to eating foods on the clean 15 list, (these are foods you can buy conventional versions of), you will have a measureable drop in tissue accumulations of pesticides.
Keep in mind that maintaining your family's health is not the only reason to choose organic food. Even though we can peel some foods such as mangoes, avocadoes and bananas, making them safe for consumption, pesticide and herbicide use contaminates groundwater, ruins soil structures and promotes erosion. They can also cause damage to local ecosystems and may be a contributor to what is called "colony collapse disorder," the sudden and mysterious die-off of pollinating honeybees that threatens the American food supply.
To help promote the health of the planet as well as your own health, it's best to buy organic whenever possible, including when you are purchasing all produce.
Here is a very useful tool when trying to sort out which foods are best to integrate into your diet, and which to omit. The EWG's food Scores Calculator is a huge database of thousands of food items and ingredients. You can find theEWG Food Scores Calculator at http://www.ewg.org/foodscores where you can even download an app for your mobile device.