Earlier this month I provided reasons we should all buy organic when possible. Since then, several people have asked me if there are certain foods that should be highlighted as especially important. Below is a partial list of fruits and vegetables that should be purchased as organic due to the high level of pesticides used in their cultivation and pesticide residue remaining on the fruit or vegetable when ready for purchase. The model used by the government to quantify "safe" levels of pesticide use for conventional farming is based on a 154 pound male. It should be noted that due to their small size in relation to how much food they eat and the developmental stages of their organ, endocrine and nervous systems, children are at particular risk to pesticide exposure from their food.
Apples-Rank #8 as most contaminated. Multiple pesticides are used. A favorite food of children.
Apricots-Rank #9 as most contaminated. All stone fruits are likely to contain pesticide residue.
Basil-A leafy green grown close to the ground.
Bell Peppers (all colors)-Bell peppers rank #2 as the most contaminated fruit/veg
Carrots-they are so good at absorbing heavy metals from soil they are often grown as a throw away crop to rid a field of lead or arsenic contamination.
Cantaloupe (Mexico)-Ranks #6. Best to buy domestic or local.
Celery-Ranks #7 as most contaminated fruit/veg
Cherries (USA)-Rank #4. They are sprayed 8-10 times during the growth cycle.
Collard Greens-Leafy greens that grow close to the ground have high pesticide residuals.
Figs- due to their thin skins and the amount they are sprayed, figs are likely to contain high residuals.
Grapes (Chile)-Rank #11.Grapes are often fed to children.
Green Beans-Rank # 10.
Kale-A leafy green vegetable that is grown close to the ground.
Lemons-Most residue is found on the peel.
Lettuce-A leafy green grown close to the ground
Limes- Most residue is found on the peel.
Mint-A highly toxic organophosphate malaithon is used as a pesticide.
Napa Cabbage-Sprayed several times during its growth cycle and highly likely to contain residue.
Oranges-Again the peel will contain most of the residue.
Parsley-A leafy green grown close to the ground and highly sprayed.
Peaches-Most likely to contain multiple pesticides residue
Potatoes-Conventionally grown Russets are highly likely to contain multiple pesticides.Choose organic or another variety.
Pumpkins-If used for eating
Raspberries-Always buy organic raspberries.
Spinach-Ranks #3 as most contaminated.
Strawberries-Rank #1 as most contaminated and often fed to children. ALWAYS buy organic.
Swiss Chard-A leafy green grown close to the ground.
Winter Squash-nonorganic is acceptable if you don't eat the skin.
Burke, Cindy, To Buy or Not To Buy Organic, Marlowe and Company, New York, 2007.
Natural Chef Handbook, Bauman College, 2007.