Today marks the end of Daylight Savings Time. Boo! But that’s not why this installment is “late” in getting out this morning.
Yes people, Uncle Bill was in Ojai for the weekend and I just got back. My newest self-given moniker, Relaxing Bill. Well, for those of you who really know me, that one probably won’t last too long, but it is nice to take some time for myself for a change.
Anyway, I have never been up to the Ojai Valley before, and I couldn’t believe that amount of fruit being grown up there. I saw strawberry patches, fields of orange trees (I miss mine), rows of avocado and plum trees and countless other types of fruits and vegetables, like corn, all over the place.
I was told that the area is known for producing some of the best organic foods in California. And, according to the Organic Trade Association, sales of organic food and beverages in the United States have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010. Armed with that bit of information, I decided to review the “necessity” of going organic.
Until recently (June 18th to be exact), I had not regularly stepped into a supermarket since 2001. So when I began seeing the variety of what one could buy that was organic I was surprised. But I must say, I was more surprised to see how much more expensive some of the organic varieties of what I was buying were.
Then, being the skeptic that I am, I decided to see whether there was a real difference to buying foods that are organic versus “non-organic” or “conventional”. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Even though the price of organic foods has dropped in the last five years, they are still generally more expensive than their “naturally farmed” cousins. Therefore, if you are indifferent to which fruits and vegetables you serve yourself and family (whether cost is an issue or not), The Clean 15 DO NOT need to be organic as they are know to have the least amount of pesticide residue.
They are (listed in ascending order, starting with of lowest levels of pesticide contamination): onions, sweet corn, pineapple, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, cantaloupe (domestic), kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit and mushrooms. Even though they are not organic, eating these items will expose an individual to less than TWO pesticides each day.
However, when it comes to choosing meat, dairy and certain fruits and vegetables known as “The Dirty Dozen”, it is worth the extra money to invest in organic. These products, in their “conventional” form often contain hormones and show the highest concentration of pesticides, resulting in the potential to reduce fertility and the body’s immune system strength, leaving you more susceptible to weight gain, illness and even some forms of cancer.
“The Dirty Dozen” are the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables; exposing the “consumer” to about 15 different pesticides every time they are eaten. These discrete villains are: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines (imported), grapes (imported), sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries (domestic), lettuce, kale / collard greens.
Now I know that many of you like to peel away the edible skins and thoroughly wash the members of this “gang”. However those processes can only help reduce (not eliminate) pesticide exposure. But they also result in the loss of valuable vitamins and nutrients like fiber.
So, if you ask Uncle Bill (and for this past weekend at least, Relaxing Bill) I’ll choose the organic cousins of the meat and dairy brethren, but I will forgo them when it comes to fruits and veggies. So, while you can add Uncle and Relaxing as two of my new monikers, you can’t add Certified Organic! At least not yet.