We all understand that nutrients, in the form of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water, are really important for the functioning of our whole body. The brain for instance, uses vitamins and minerals to help perform vital tasks such as making amino acids into neurotransmitters, and converting carbohydrates into glucose for fuel.
Eating fresh fruit and vegetables is without a doubt the best way to obtain the nutrients, but the pesticides used on many crops remain a major health concern.
Pesticides are toxic by design. In studies, pesticides have been commonly associated with health risks that include disruptions to hormones, the nervous system, increased cancer risks, alzheimer’s disease, ADHD and even birth defects.
Washing many fruit and veg can reduce the intake of pesticide residues. Peeling or scrubbing produce like potatoes with a stiff clean brush or rubbing soft items like peaches while holding them under running water works well. However, pesticide residues can still stick to waxy or soft-skinned fruits. Although one piece of fruit with pesticides won’t kill you, if they build up in your body, they can be potentially detrimental to your health and should be avoided as much as possible.
So there are benefits to choosing organic foods, enabling you to reap the rewards of high nutrient rich foods without the potentially harmful chemicals.
Do organic foods contain pesticides?
All ‘organic’ food traded in the UK must be produced according to European laws. This means it must originate from registered organic growers. However there are still some pesticides that can be used as long as they are from a list certified by European and UK organisations. In fact, manufacturers of organic foods are permitted to use specific non-organic ingredients as long as the organic components make up at least 95% of the food. There is no easy way to find out just what has been used to grow your produce. In spite of this, it is still advisable to buy organic whenever possible, as it will reduce your intake of pesticides.
Many individuals when focusing on their health will understandably choose to make the switch to organic foods gradually because these foods tend to be more expensive and lifestyle choices have to be taken into account.
Are some foods better to buy as “organic” compared to others?
Making gradual changes is made possible with the help of information widely available today. In the US the Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce each year. This has been produced in order to help consumers make informed choices. The foods confirmed by the EWG to have the highest pesticide content have been named as the “Dirty Dozen”.
Although the dirty dozen food list applies to data collected in America, the reason some fruit and vegetables are worse than others is due to their skin and growing conditions, which means that the same could be said to apply to fruit and vegetables from the UK. We should also take in to account when purchasing fresh food that much of the produce sold in the UK is imported.
The “Dirty Dozen”:
It should be stated that knowing some foods have a higher pesticide load doesn’t mean that you should avoid these foods. On the contrary, fruits and vegetables will always be the best option, but it is worth considering choosing an organic alternative where possible.
There are also Foods that are currently considered to have the lowest pesticide load, which are:
It is up to you to make the healthy choices that will lead you, your friends, and your family to a healthier lifestyle.
Perhaps you may even consider growing your own fruits and vegetables in pots or in your garden and then you would know what exactly has been added.
By Rachel Course Nutrition and QED resilience
Have a listen to our podcast with Rachel to find out what foods are great for building up resilience.