Conventional produce is grown using pesticides, herbicides and fungicides; these additives allow produce to grow out of season and in poor quality soil. The impact these additives have on the health of the consumer is well documented. As well as providing a reduced exposure to pesticides, organic produce has been shown to contain a higher level of nutrients than its non-organic counterparts.
Most health experts agree that it is crucial to choose the organic option when shopping for eggs, meat and dairy. Organic farming methods are more ethical in the treatment of their livestock and the final product has considerably better health benefits for the consumer. In addition to the pesticides in the feeds of conventionally farmed animals, there are also hormones and antibiotics to contend with. Conventionally farmed animals are fed on a diet of grain instead of grazing on pasture. This practice changes the ratio of fats within the meat, replacing beneficial omega-3s with inflammatory omega-6s.
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When it comes to fruit and vegetables, there is a little more leniency around choosing organic. Some fruit and vegetables require little interference in order to flourish; these are listed as the 'Clean 15'. Conventionally grown items on this list should have little pesticide residue. By contrast, those listed as the 'dirty dozen' are heavily sprayed and should be on the top of your list when shopping for organic produce.
To make buying organic affordable, support your local farmers markets where you will deal directly with the grower and where produce should always be fresh and seasonal. You can't escape all of life's inevitable environmental toxins, but you can make choices that lighten the toxic load and provide your body with the best chance of achieving optimal health. Switching to consuming an organic diet is not something you will reap immediate benefit from, but it is a long-term investment in your health.
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The Dirty Dozen (buy organic)
7. Salad green
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The Clean 15
11. Kiwi fruit
14. Sweet potato
15. Sweet corn