By Lisa Pecos
Buying organic foods is good for the planet and positive for your health, but because organic produce is often more expensive than non-organic, it is important to think carefully about which fruits and vegetables to spend the extra money on. After all, some fruits and vegetables-especially ones with thick skin, such as avocados, bananas, pineapple, mangoes, and oranges-are just as healthy in their non-organic forms. To help in your grocery-shopping decisions, here are the top ten fruits and vegetables that should be bought organic.
1.Peaches: Due to their thin skins and spongy texture, peaches tend to soak up pesticides and insecticides. Among all fruits routinely treated with chemicals, non-organic peaches carry the highest concentrations of iprodione (a fungicide) and organophosphate (an insecticide). Both are harmful to human health in large quantities.
2.Bell peppers: Bell peppers are not quite as absorbent as peaches, but they have a thin skin that does not provide much of a barrier to pesticides and other chemicals. Testing has shown that non-organic bell-peppers are near the top of the list in terms of pesticides absorbed.
3.Strawberries: Because strawberries have a relatively short growing season, most sold in U.S. stores are imported from other countries, where agricultural regulations may not be as strong. Plus, strawberries are artificially reddened by captan, a fungicide that is likely a carcinogen.
4.Celery: Because celery has no skin and is highly absorbent of liquids and chemicals in the soil and atmosphere, it tends to draw in pesticides and spread them up and down the stalk, where they cannot be washed off.
5.Apples: Apples are prone to a wide variety of growths and infestations, and because the apple industry is so huge, agricultural companies have spent billions coming up with specialized pesticides and other chemicals to keep apples sellable. As a result, practically ever non-organic apple you find in the store is coated with a layer of waxy residue, which permeates through the skin and mixes with the sugary insides.
6.Potatoes: Potatoes are among the most pesticide-treated crops due to the robust varieties of fungi and pests that tend to grow beneath the surface of the ground, where potatoes live. Organic potatoes are much harder to grow and thus typically more expensive, but they are worth it as they taste better and are much cleaner.
7.Blueberries: Due to their growing popularity in health-food circles, blueberries are becoming more and more in demand, which has numerous agricultural companies scrambling for ways to increase their blueberry yields. According to the USDA, blueberries are now treated with 52 different chemicals.
8.Nectarines: Like peaches, nectarines have a thin skin and an absorbent pulp, so that the 33 pesticides they are routinely treated with cannot be washed away. Among tree fruits, nectarines rank right up there with peaches and apples.
9.Leafy greens: Leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach are commonly treated with potent pesticides, which can be difficult to wash off of those pored and wrinkled surfaces. Plus, because most of these plants are so low to the ground, they tend to absorb chemicals from the soil and thus get permeated with unhealthy elements.
10.Pears: Pears are one of those fruits that, despite the best efforts of regulators, seem only to get doused in more and more chemicals by the year. As each new generation of insects grows increasingly resilient to the pesticides, agricultural companies have to keep creating stronger, more toxic pesticides to combat them. At this point, non-organic pears are routinely doused in 28 different pesticides, and this number will only grow.