Mar 24 2019

When is it best to Buy Organic

Published by at 12:40 pm under General

When is it best to buy organic?
Find out which of your favorite vegetables and fruits are the “cleanest” and the “dirtiest,” according to the EWG’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce.1*

Every year, the Environmental Working Group releases its Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which analyzes US. Department of Agriculture test data, and lists the produce with the most and least pesticide residue. According to their findings, nearly 70 percent of the produce sold in the United States comes with pesticide reside. 1* 

As part of this study, they released the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list and the ‘Clean Fifteen’. These reveal the produce with the most and least pesticide residue, which helps guide us when produce shopping to decide which we really should buy organic, and which others might be alright to go with conventional growing methods. “…The Environmental Working Group’s ranking is based on an analysis of test data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA personnel test fruits and vegetables for pesticide residues regularly, making sure to replicate how shoppers would consume the product. For instance, if consumers regularly wash and peel a fruit before eating it, the USDA testers will do that before examining the product for pesticides…” (1,2)*

This year’s list surprised many because Kale, which had not been tested in over a decade, ranked number 3 on the Dirty Dozen list. The last time the USDA included kale in its testing was 2008 and during that time, the leafy green ranked No. 8 on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. The USDA changes the batch of fruits and vegetables it tests based on consumers’ eating habits. Kale has grown in popularity over the past few years showing up in restaurants and recipes along with other leafy greens including spinach (which came in number two on the Dirty Dozen.)  “…Multiple samples of kale showed the presence of 18 pesticides including Dacthal, or DCPA. “…This pesticide, which is banned in Europe and was classified by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency as a possible carcinogen, was found on nearly 60% of the kale samples tested…”(1,2)*

Growing practices may explain why the produce listed as the dirty dozen have more pesticide contamination. Produce which is grown in soil in which weed killer is directly applied, can make certain fruits and vegetables more susceptible. Dacthal, the potentially carcinogenic pesticide, is typically applied directly to soil as a weed-killer where it can then be absorbed through the roots and into the plant itself. These growing practices may explain the pesticide contamination that’s endemic to much of the “Dirty Dozen” fruits and vegetables, including Kale. Overexposure to pesticides is a concern, for its possible connections to cancer, fertility and neurological problems. (1,2)*

Here is the 2019 Dirty Dozen:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Applies
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes(1,2)*


According to the advocacy group, of the more than 90 percent of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines and kale sampled, they tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides. (1,2)*

So when you are deciding which items you want to buy organic, choose from this list first. The Clean Fifteen lists the fruits and vegetables that contain, according to this study, the lowest levels of pesticides. These contain the lowest levels of pesticides when grown by conventional methods. Some of these have thick skins which we remove before eating, which provide a barrier to pesticides being applied directly to the crop. Less than 30% of these fruits and vegetables tested have pesticide contamination, based on the USDA’s testing.  (1,2)*

The Clean 15 are:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Frozen sweet peas
  5. Red Onion
  6. Papaya
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwi
  10. Cabbage
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Cantaloupe
  13. Broccoli
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew Melon(1,2)*


The EWG advises people to eat organic produce and many folks are heeding this advice. In 2018, 7% of fruit and 11% of vegetables sold in the United Sates was organic, according to the consumer data company Nielsen. It also revealed that 15 percent of frozen fruit and 5% of frozen veggies that were sold were organic. But  most advocate, we need to eat fruits and vegetables, whether you have access to organic choices or not. According to the CDC, only 1 in 10 adults in the US eat enough fruits and vegetables and oftentimes, organic choices are not that much more expensive. Organic kale was 5% more expensive than its conventionally-grown version in January, according to the Associated Press, citing USDA data. This is where the Shoppers Guide to Pesticide in Produce guidelines come in handy. (1,2)*

A farming trade group in California that represents both organic and conventional farmers took issue with the Environmental findings. According to the spokeswoman for the Watsonville, California based Alliance for Food and Farming, Teresa Thorne, the EWG has been reporting on this for more than two decades and “it’s time to move away from it.” (1,2)*

She called the amount of pesticide residue on conventionally-grown and organic produce “so low” and cited scientific research that EWG’s suggestion that people instead eat more organic produce didn’t decrease their risk. “…AFF noted that an analysis conducted by toxicologists with the University of California’s Personal Chemical Exposure Program found an adult woman could eat 18,615 servings of kale in a day and a child could consume 7,446 servings and not suffer any health effects…”.(1,2)*

The more we can feed our body healthy organic fruits and vegetables the better, but we don’t always have that luxury. Do the best you can. Follow this guide. Wash your produce well. Continue to practice other healthy eating habits and avoid processed junk food, sugar, excessive alcohol, smoking and other unhealthy habits. Drink clean water, exercise and keep your gut healthy and your immune system strong by continuing with your Body Biotics™ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Consortia™ daily. We can only stay informed and stay true to our healthiest practices.*

Healthiest wishes,





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