How important is it to buy and eat organic produce? Does it really matter? According to nutritionist and Kripalu Healthy Living faculty member John Bagnulo, PhD, MPH, when it comes to certain foods, it’s essential.
This is an issue I’ve often hemmed and hawed over—and, to be honest, when faced with the choice of cheap, delicious-looking produce at Trader Joe’s or at my local Asian market, I often opt for what’s on sale, not what’s organic.
But after my weeklong Nutrition and Cooking Immersion with John and Kripalu Executive Chef Jeremy Smith, I can truly say that my attitude has changed. The pesticides, GMOs, and other toxins often found in non-organic foods can overload the system—contributing to food allergies, inflammation, and disease, while also affecting our overall mood and general well-being.
If you, like most of us, need to pick and choose what foods you buy and eat organic, here’s help.
The Dirty Dozen
Published by the Environmental Working Group, this list includes the 12 fruits and vegetables that you should always buy organic, because they contain the highest levels of toxic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. While the list changes frequently, here’s where it stands now:
And a few more—while kale, collard greens, and summer squash do not meet the traditional Dirty Dozen criteria, they are “commonly contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system,” according to the Environmental Working Group.
The Clean Fifteen
Some good news: These items are low in pesticides and other toxins, even when grown conventionally.
Sweet peas (frozen)
*However, the EWG adds the GMO crops likely to be found in American “supermarkets are zucchini, Hawaiian papaya and some varieties of sweet corn. Only a small fraction of sweet corn is GMO.”
While John disagrees (“almost all sweet corn that is not organic is GMO, for sure”) he and the EWG both suggest “since U.S. law does not require labeling of GMO produce, people who want to avoid it to purchase the organically-grown versions of these items.”
Join John Bagnulo and Jeremy Smith for the next Nutrition and Cooking Immersion.