We have all heard that eating organic is the way to go if we want to prevent ourselves from ingesting potentially harmful chemicals hidden in our fruits and vegetables. But how many times have you gone to the grocery store on a budget and noticed that organic avocados are almost a dollar more than non-organic avocados? Being a recent college graduate, I know what it feels like to worry about those extra dollars adding up. I sometimes have wondered if one word could really make that big of a difference. Unless you consistently shop at Sprouts, Whole Foods, or have an amazing farmer’s market in your town, buying organic can be difficult, costly, and make shopping twice as long and frustrating.
Although purchasing (and eating) solely organically grown food is still the best option, there are some non-organic foods that you could slip into your mouth without feeling a tremendous amount of guilt or anxiety that you just ingested 80 different kinds of pesticides. Psychology Today was kind enough to list them out in a recent issue and I felt like it was also worth mentioning here. So, here you go:
NON-ORGANIC FOODS YOU CAN EAT SAFELY AND (MOSTLY) GUILT-FREE
1. Onions – 1 Pesticide
Dicloran is a fungicide and the only pesticide that onions carry – and was found present in only .03 percent of samples tested. However, dicloran is banned in most European countries, and probably for good reason.
2. Sweet Corn – 1 Pesticide
The neurotoxin dimethoate is the only toxin in sweet corn and was only found on 2.3 percent of samples tested.
3. Pineapples – 6 Pesticides
Triadimefon is the most common pesticide found in pineapples, but was still only present in 4.5 percent of samples. Carbaryl is a neurotoxin found in trace amounts in pineapples and is also banned in most European countries (I think they’re on to something).
4. Avocado – exact number unstated
Abamectin is the major pesticide in avocados and has been known to lead to tremors and loss of coordination in high doses. However, all avocados are good sources of fiber, folate, and phytosterols (aka – good fat).
5. Asparagus – 9 Pesticides
The pesticides found were only present in about 3.3 percent of samples tested. These included methomyl and chlorpyrifos, both neurotoxins.
6. Sweet Peas – 12 Chemicals
Dimethoate was found present in over 10 percent of samples tested. The other chemicals were found in anywhere between 0.1 – 12.1 percent of samples.
7. Mangoes – 2 Major Pesticides + small traces of others
Imidacloprid and glyphosate are the 2 major pesticides in mangoes; Although glyphosate is relatively non-toxic to humans.
8. Eggplant – 17+ Chemicals
17 looks like a lot of chemicals, but the amounts found in the samples were only small traces. It’s main ‘star’ is the hormone disruptor endosulfan, which was found in 16 percent of samples.
9. Cantaloupe – 27 Pesticides
Endosulfan is also the most common pesticide found in cantaloupe. The other pesticides were found in percentages ranging from 0.2-28.8 of samples.
10. Cabbage – 2 Major Pesticides + small traces of others
Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide and nerve disruptor found in cabbage. Chlorothalonil is a potential carcinogen and can damage eyes and skin in high doses.
11. Kiwi – 2 Major Pesticides + small traces of others
Glyphosate and paraquat were found in 57 and 35 percent of samples. Glyphosate is harmless, although paraquat has been linked to Parkinson’s disease.
12. Watermelon – 28 Pesticides
28 different pesticides were found in 0.2-5.1 percent of watermelon samples. The most common are imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, both neurotoxins, and methamidophos, a far more toxic nerve disruptor.
FOODS YOU SHOULD ONLY EAT IF GROWN ORGANICALLY (AKA “THE DIRTY DOZEN”)
1. Apples – 40 + Pesticides
Workers who apply pesticides to apples, particularly diphenylamine or DPA (which is linked to bladder tumors), are required to wear long sleeves and gloves to prevent exposure to these fungicides and carcinogens.
2. Celery – 64 Pesticides
Pesticides discovered were found on every celery tested, most of which are used to kill moths, beetles, and other bugs by stimulating their muscles to contract.
3. Strawberries – exact number unstated
One of every two non-organic strawberries grown contain the fungicide captan, a possible carcinogen. Pyraclostrobin is also very present in strawberries and has been known to cause skin and eye irritations.
4. Peaches – 62 Pesticides
Most peaches tested contained pesticides that may cause damage to the liver, kidneys, nervous system functioning, and reproductive systems.
5. Spinach – 48 Pesticides
Permethrin and imidacloprid are found in almost every other leaf of spinach sampled, and can disrupt nerve signals.
6. Nectarines – 33 Pesticides
Formetanate is a neurotoxin that was found in half of the sample of nectarines tested.
7. Grapes – 34 Pesticides
Cyprodinil was found in 3/10 Chilean grapes and can cause eye, nose, and skin irritation.
8. Bell Peppers – 49 Pesticides
26 of the 49 different pesticides found in bell peppers are hormone disruptors, while 13 of them are neurotoxins. Imidacloprid is also present in more than 80 percent of samples tested.
9. Potatoes – 37 Pesticides
Imidacloprid is found again in high doses in potatoes, along with chloropropham which can irritate the skin and eyes in high doses.
10. Lettuce – 51 Pesticides
Imidacloprid strikes yet again in 73 percent of lettuce samples tested. Lettuce also has DCPA, a herbicide, and dimethomorph, a fungicide that can damage lungs if inhaled.
11. Blueberries – 52 Pesticides
Approximately 30 percent of blueberries contain the fungicide boscalid, which is toxic to the liver and thyroid, as well as pyraclostrobin, a skin irritant.
12. Kale – 55 Pesticides
Similar to lettuce, kale contains DCPA and imidacloprid, found in 30 and 50 percent of samples.
TAKE NOTE: This is not a list stating what NOT to eat. All of these produce items still have nutritional benefits and are very good for you! Just remember that when in doubt – choose organic. Then you will never have to worry about eating anything foreign or in addition to the tons of vitamins and minerals that are naturally present in these food items.
If you would like more information or are looking for a way to eat organic without spending a ton of money, Psychology Today wrote another beautiful online article to help. You can find it here.