Written by Luz Plaza 07/11/2013
Adding organic food to your shopping cart can be expensive. That said, avoiding consuming chemical pesticides and hormones could help you to avoid damaging (and costly) future health problems. A 2012 Washington State University study demonstrated that environmental toxicants can have negative effects on not just an exposed animal but the next three generations of its offspring. Another recent study showed that Monsanto’s widely used herbicide formula Roundup destroys testosterone and ultimately leads to male infertility. More than 25 other diseases are also known to be linked to Roundup including DNA damage, birth defects, liver dysfunction, and cancer. How can you avoid putting toxic pesticides into your body? Buy organic foods whenever possible. If you are on a tight budget, you can prioritize your purchases based on this list.
Conventional grains are known to contain 15 pesticide residues according to the USDA Pesticide Program. They have even been known to carry carcinogens and neurotoxins that are linked to many health problems. Why buy them organic? Organic whole grains can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, stroke and heart disease. They’ll also help you maintain your weight! Buy organic whole grains in bulk to stock up and save big.
2. Soy, Tofu, and Edamame
If you choose to eat soy, tofu, or edamame (and many concerned with health and fitness have lately removed soy products from their diets due to concerns about the “antinutrients” and phytoestrogens contained in unfermented soy), be aware that 90 percent of soybeans sold in the United States are genetically-modified. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola of the Natural Health Center, “Since the introduction of genetically engineered foods in 1996, we’ve had an upsurge in low birth weight babies, infertility, and other problems in the U.S., and animal studies have shown devastating effects from genetically engineered soy including allergies, sterility, birth defects, and offspring death rates up to five times higher than normal.” Always buying organic soy will ensure that you avoid genetically modified crops as well as neurotoxins such as Chlorpyrifos and Malathion.
If you consume dairy, it’s important to be aware that 20 percent of the milk in the U.S. comes from cows who have received a genetically-engineered hormone called Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). Max Goldberg from “Your Guide to Organic Food & Drink” writes “For people who are new to organic or have very limited financial means to buy organic, the one thing that I always say is the following: The absolute number one priority in your household should be organic milk for your kids.” Certified organic milk comes from cows fed organic feed raised on land certified as meeting national organic growing standards. Additionally, these cows are not given routine treatments of antibiotics or growth hormones.
While the Federal Drug Administration regulates the ingredients of processed cheese, these non-organic cheeses can still present a ton of problems. For example, processed cheese is made by using heat and an emulsifying agent to mix many varieties of cheese together to produce the final product. This means the FDA allows a variety of emulsifying agents such as monosodium phosphate, calcium citrate and potassium citrate. What’s more, highly processed cheese likely comes from a cow that’s been treated with synthetic hormones to boost milk production. These cheeses can contain dyes and food coloring that has been linked to cancer too. Cheese is still a great source of protein, so if you eat it, choose to buy it organic.
If you eat meat, it’s important to be aware that conventional meat contains hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. There are pesticides found in meats and poultry because cows and other animals eat feed grown using synthetic fetilizers and herbicides, but the main reason that studies and most experts say you should buy organic meat is because of the dangers of hormones, antibiotics and additives which have been linked to cancer and other harmful heath effects. Organic meats can be expensive, but they offer great nutritional benefits. For example red meat is chock full of protein, iron and zinc.
An apple a day is a great way to keep the doctor away. That’s because apples are a great source of fiber, and they help keep your digestive tract in tiptop shape. Apples can help improve cardiovascular function and lower bad cholesterol. Sadly, these sweet treats were ranked highest on the list of pesticides in produce. According to Pesticide Action Network’s website WhatsOnMyFood.org, 88 percent of conventional apples contain residues of Thiabendazole, a possible carcinogen. Even after a good wash, a conventional apple still contains traces of toxic chemicals. You can avoid these by buying organic apples.
Celery is a good source of vitamin C, fiber and some B vitamins. It is also very high in potassium, which may help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. But be careful when you buy celery at your grocery store! Conventional celery often tests positive for the carcinogenic insecticide, Chlorantraniliprole and developmental or reproductive toxins. So if you can’t get organic celery, opt to buy asparagus instead. Conventional asparagus is at the top of the clean produce list, which means it contains far less of these nasty chemicals.
Sweet and delicious cherries are an easy go-to grab at the grocery store, however they are notorious for pesticide and toxin leftovers on their skin. In fact, the USDA Pesticide Data Program found 42 pesticide residues on cherries including carcinogens and neurotoxins that can cause nervous tissue damage. But don’t give up yet! Cherries are a good source of fiber and vitamin C, and they are also full of potassium. Be sure to check whether your cherries are organic before purchasing them.
We use tomatoes in so many dishes. Did you know that just one large tomato contains almost a third of the recommended dietary amount of vitamin C that is essential for immune system health? Tomatoes also are one of the best sources of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. It’s best to buy organic because conventional tomatoes tested positive for many toxic chemicals including Chlorothalonil, a chemical that is considered to be a known carcinogen.
Eaten either fresh or as a pickle, cucumbers have numerous health benefits though. Add them to salads or slice them in spears to eat alone or with a healthy dip. Cucumbers are rich in vitamin A, vitamin K and potassium. Unfortunately, many cucumbers contain 35 pesticide residues like Endosulfan, an insecticide that is so toxic that it’s gradually being phased out globally.
Grapes are a yummy treat that offer a variety of vitamin and mineral health benefits. They are a great source of calcium, iron and manganese that are essential for the production of healthy tissues. But did you know that conventional grapes often contain traces of Captan and Iprodione, both known carcinogens? Yuck! Buy your grapes organic to avoid sneaky pesticides.
12. Hot Peppers
Peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin, which can help relieve nasal congestion and even fight against cancer. Unfortunately, conventional peppers also can contain 49 pesticide residues, including known carcinogens and neurotoxins. Can’t find or afford organic hot peppers but looking to add some extra flavor to your recipes? Buy onions instead, since they are tested as a clean vegetable.
A medium sized nectarine has only 60 calories and is full of healthy vitamins and minerals. Nectarines also contain Lutein, a nutrient that your body uses to support healthy eyes and skin. Remember to avoid imported nectarines whenever possible because they can contain Iprodione, a possible carcinogen. Buy them organic from your local grocer whenever you can.
Peaches are full of antioxidants and they are a great source of fiber. These furry fruits may be tasty, but conventional peaches can contain 62 chemicals that are carcinogens, suspected hormone disruptors, neurotoxins and developmental or reproductive toxins! That’s more than most fruits and veggies! Be sure to make sure your peaches are organic. Craving something sweet but can’t find or afford organic peaches at your store? Buy a conventional cantaloupe. It’s less likely to contain nasty pesticide residue.
Potatoes are a great source of fiber and potassium and they are a naturally great source of energy. Alas, conventional potatoes often contain neurotoxin chemicals that can cause mental and emotional changes, vision loss and weakness or numbness in arms and legs. Can’t find (or can’t afford) organic potatoes at your store? Buy conventional sweet potatoes instead. They are full of antioxidants and are considered a clean vegetable, free of toxic residues.
Low in calories and high in vitamins, spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence. One cup of the leafy green vegetable contains far more than your daily requirements of vitamin K and vitamin A. Sadly, this superfood also tests positive for a whopping 48 pesticide residues found by the USDA Pesticide Data Program. They found that spinach contains carcinogens, neurotoxins and developmental or reproductive toxins.
Strawberries have been linked to increased heart health and lower levels of bad cholesterol. And who doesn’t love a sweet strawberry in a refreshing dessert or in a summer salad? Before you toss strawberries into your next dish, be sure that they are organic. Conventional strawberries can contain many types of pesticide residue including Captan, a probable human carcinogen that causes rats to develop tumors.
18. Sweet Bell Peppers
Red, green, yellow and purple bell peppers not only add color to your plate, but also potent nutritional benefits. One cup of pepper contains almost 100 percent of the daily requirements for Vitamin A and 300 percent of the daily requirements for vitamin C. According to the USDA Pesticide Data Program, conventional peppers tested positive for nearly 50 pesticide residues including Methamindophos, a poisonous chemical that, in very high does can be fatal. To be safe, always buy organic peppers.
19. Collards and Kale
Kale might be the latest nutrient-rich food craze, but did you know that conventional kale contains 49 pesticide residues found by the USDA pesticide data program. Those chemicals include two dozen possible hormone disruptors, 10 neurotoxins, and seven known or probable carcinogens. The reason for this is that when kale is grown on a large scale, in an agricultural setting, it attracts a lot of pests. This pesticide residue cannot be totally rinsed off, and since you cannot peel kale, it is best to buy it organic. Luckily, organic kale is usually only slightly more expensive than conventionally grown kale.
20. Summer Squash & Zucchini
Summer squash contains 46 percent of the daily value for vitamin C in each serving. Unfortunately conventional squash and zucchini still contain traces of the banned pesticide ogranochlorine that is highly toxic to humans and wildlife. Look for organic options to ensure you’ll have a clean meal.
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