Organic fruit, veggies worth it

We are living in a toxic environment, and it is important to choose organic foods, especially fruits and vegetables, to avoid pesticide exposure.

Whatever is in the soil gets transferred into the fruit or vegetable. Produce, grown in soil that is high in pesticides, will contain many pesticides and not enough nutrients.

On the other hand, if it’s not in the soil, it’s not in the food! So the quality of the farmer’s soil really is crucial in creating healthy, nutrient rich fruits and vegetables. Organic foods often contain more minerals and phytochemical than conventionally grown produce due to them having built up the resilience to fight off diseases and pests, without the aid of pesticides.

If it’s hard to afford to buy organic produce, or just to help save a little money, then the Environmental Working Group website has some very useful resources. Their Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists help us make more conscious choices when buying fruits and vegetables.

The fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticides, the Dirty Dozen, include apples, bell peppers, carrots, celery, cherries, grapes, kale, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, pears and strawberries.

We know that it is vital to eat fruits and vegetables because they have crucial nutrients that we cannot get from other sources. The fact that this dirty dozen list contains some of the most popular choices and they are covered with the most toxic agricultural chemicals available, is certainly a conundrum.

The Clean 15 list, on the other hand, contains the fruits and vegetables that have the least pesticides and includes avocados, corn, pineapple, cabbage, sweet peas, onion, asparagus, mangoes, papaya, kiwi, eggplant, honey dew, grapefruit, cantaloupe and cauliflower.

I encourage you to only choose organic fruits and vegetables and to also eat a wide variety of different ones because they all contain different essential antioxidants. If it’s not possible to find organic choices, then I recommend scrubbing them in a tub with 10 percent vinegar, then removing the skin or peel.

Most people think that organic foods are expensive, but I believe that we need to change our perception about this. Organic food is really not that expensive if you compare it to conventional produce. And when you think about the links between pesticide exposure and cancer, neurological damage, endocrine disruptors and many serious diseases and health problems, then there is no doubt that choosing fresh, organically grown food will lower the amount of toxic pesticides in the body.

Whenever possible, I urge you to choose locally grown organic produce to support your local organic farmers.

I choose to buy almost everything organic. Probably 10 percent of the fruits and vegetables that I buy are not organic, but that is simply because the organic variety is not available. With these, I make sure that they are amongst the safest of the conventionally grown food, when it comes to pesticide exposure. For the remaining 90 percent, I am grateful to be able to get organically grown produce. I also notice that organic fruits and vegetables have a much better taste!

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Ayda Ersoy is a nutrition and fitness director at The Diet Doc Hawaii. She can be reached at DietDocHawaii.com, or (808) 276-6892

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