How your food is grown can have a major impact on your mental and emotional health as well as the environment. Organic foods have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than conventionally grown produce and they are free of pesticides and herbicides that are harmful to our health. We are overloaded with toxins in our environment and there are simple steps that we can take to minimize exposure. Here are just a few of the benefits of eating organic food:

1) Organic produce are free of pesticides. Chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on the food we eat. Studies have shown that these have a negative effect on our health, including hormonal issues, cancer and worsening allergies.

2) Organic food is often fresher. This is because it doesn’t contain preservatives that make it last longer. Organic produce is often produced on smaller farms near where it is sold. Eating locally grown, organic produce is ideal when possible.

3) Organic farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy.

4) Organically raised animals are not given antibiotics, and hormones. Organically-raised animals are given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, which help to keep them healthy, eliminating the need for use of antibiotics and hormones.

5) Organic meat and milk are richer in certain nutrients. Results of a 2016 European study show that levels of certain nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50 percent higher in organic meat and milk than in conventionally raised versions.

6) Organic food is GMO-free. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are plants whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding, most commonly in order to be resistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide. Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe and have bans or restrictions on these foods. In the United States they are widely used and there are no current laws that require companies to label foods as being GMO.

Eating organic fruits and vegetables is a healthy choice but may not be affordable for many people. If you can afford to purchase organic foods most of the time that’s ideal but for people that can’t it’s helpful to have guidelines on produce that have the highest and lowest level of pesticides.

This is a list of produce items that, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), have the highest and lowest levels of pesticides. The foods on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list should be eaten organic while the foods on the Clean 15’ list are less of a priority.

The Dirty Dozen (most contaminated):
Sweet Bell Peppers
Cherry tomatoes
Snap peas (imported)
Hot peppers
Collard Greens

The Clean 15 (least contaminated):
Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas (Frozen)
Kiwi Fruit
Cantaloupe (domestic)
Sweet potatoes