List of Healthy Food
to Always Eat Organic

Know your list of healthy food to always eat organic, and what produce is relatively safe to eat non-organic. When I started incorporating more raw vegetables and fruit into my family’s diet, I discovered it was quite expensive to buy everything certified organic. I found three solutions to the problem of balancing our budget and eating organic fruit and vegetables:

• I researched which vegetables and fruits were considered less risky to buy non-organic and bought them more cheaply at the supermarket.

• I shopped more frequently at a small local store that stocks produce from local growers. The produce isn’t certified organic but is pesticide-free and hasn’t done many food miles.

• I grew more food!

beet beauty

Want to know why choosing organic is so important? Organic food has greater food density and higher levels of nutrients without the toxicity of pesticides. If you’re eating raw, but not organic, you’re probably consuming more pesticides than you ever have in your life! Know which fruits and vegetables you should always eat organic. Some foods contain more pesticides than others, and you need to know what fruits and vegetables are most important to grow or buy organic.

The Environmental Working Group’s factsheet “Shopper’s guide to Pesticides” lists the ‘dirty dozen’ and the ‘clean 15’. The EWG’s pesticide testing also takes into account the way people wash and prepare fruit and vegetables. I also found several other “Only Buy Organic/Safest to Buy Non-organic” lists that agreed with EWG’s core list, but added several other fruits and vegetables to each. I’ve combined these lists below for easy reference. The good news is that bananas and avocados are on the relatively safe to buy non-organic side – my family eats lots of these!

Always buy organic

According to the EWG the following are the most effected by pesticides, so buy these organic when you can - or grow them at home!

• Peaches
• Apples
• Capsicums
• Celery
• Nectarines
• Strawberries
• Cherries
• Kale
• Lettuce
• Grapes
• Carrots
• Pears
• Collard greens
• Spinach
• Potato

Safest to buy non-organic

According to the EWG these fruits and vegetables have the least contamination from pesticides:
• Onion
• Avocado
• Sweet corn
• Pineapple
• Mango
• Asparagus
• Sweet peas
• Kiwi fruit
• Cabbage
• Eggplant
• Papaya
• Watermelon
• Broccoli
• Tomato
• Sweet potato

Other less verifiable sources suggest that bananas, plantains, plums, blueberries, grapefruit, oranges, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, sprouts (when you sprout your own) and radishes are ok too.

I found that a common complaint regarding these lists is that the most toxic foods are the ones people most commonly want to eat, especially kids. That’s simply all the more reason to grow your own whenever you can. I currently buy bananas, avocados and melons non-organic, as we eat large volumes of these and they’re on the comparatively safe to buy non-organic list. zucchini tomato wall The list of healthy food we grow at varying times of the year includes onions, tomatoes, capsicums, lettuce, Chinese kale, mustard greens, mizuna, rocket, sweet corn, leeks, watermelon, baby spinach, bush pumpkins, zucchini, bokchoy, broccoli, beets, silverbeet, beans, eggplant, Spanish onions, snowpeas, lemons, limes, basil, parsley and coriander. That enables us to eat about two thirds of our vegetables home-grown, and about a third of our fruit. We’re working on growing up some apple and plum trees as well but for now I buy the rest organic. My organic shopping list largely comprises fruit and greens. We drink so many green smoothies we end up over-grazing our own parsley and spinach patches!

Organic farming methods

Of course it’s important to remember that eating organic food isn’t just about your own health. Organic farming methods take better care of the planet than conventional farming methods which contaminate groundwater, ruin soil structures and promote erosion. Consider also the pollution resulting from herbicide and pesticide use, and its impact on other animals in the environment. Organic farming methods increase biodiversity, improve the health of the soil and avoid pollution.

”The Myths of Safe Pesticides”

The 20th ANZFA Total Diet Survey (testing conducted in 2000 and 2001) concluded that Australians typically consume pesticide loads within a safe threshold. The results summarised that “the levels of pesticide residues, contaminants and other substances in our food are very low, and in all cases they are within acceptable safety limits” and assured the overall safety of the Australian food supply. However, the Organic Federation of Australia published “The Myths of Safe Pesticides” which warns of the hazard of chemical combinations. This paper argues that food testing applies only to active ingredients in isolation rather than in combination with other chemicals that are also present in food, and also claims that the safety thresholds are set too high. They conclude that “the only way to avoid these poisons is to eat certified organically grown food - produced without these toxic compounds.” Keep it all in mind when you decide on the list of healthy food you wish to grow in your home vegetable garden.

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