In an ideal world most people would love to be able to afford to feed their family organic food. There are serious concerns about Glyphosate and other pesticides which may impact on gut health, immunity and the neurological system and this is why people are seeking out food that has been grown in a more natural way.
Pesticides by their very design kill living organisms, ‘pests’ and are also linked to a host of health problems including cancer, brain and nervous system toxicity, hormone disruption, skin, eye and lung irritation. The American Academy of Pediatrics 2012 report noted that children have “unique susceptibilities to (pesticide residue) toxicity” linking it directly to behavioral problems, cognitive function and childhood cancers.
Buying organic directly reduces your body’s exposure to these pollutants and also supports sustainable farming methods that protect the environment and wildlife. But as we all know sometimes buying organic just isn’t possible, be it an issue of availability or the financial cost. So here are my top four next best options if you are struggling to get the organic produce you want:
1.The Dirty Dozen & The Clean Fifteen
Every year the Environmental Working Group publishes an extensive report detailing the pesticide contamination of 48 popular fruit and vegetables as tested by the US Department of agriculture and food and drug administration.
To help identify the worst offenders the annual EWG Dirty Dozen ranks in descending order the most contaminated and thus those to prioritise to buy/grow organically. As you can see strawberries and spinach are the two you really need to look out for.
The EWG also publish the Clean Fourteen, the foods found with the fewest pesticide residues (yippee!) and thus much less necessary to buy organically.
Sweet peas frozen
2. Washing Fruit & Veggies
Washing your fruit and veg is a great way to decrease the levels of pesticides and nasties. There are lots of vegetable and fruit washes available to buy. However, it’s worth considering the research by the University of Maine who studied some of the most popular brands and found them no more effective than distilled water, and some even contained additional chlorine and chemicals.
As well as simply using lots of lovely filtered water you can also soak your fruit and veg in apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and/or a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to help soak off any residues. The most important thing is to fully clean or soak in water and then fully dry the fruit of veg before storing.
3. Buy Locally
Whilst not an insurance of organic, often it is possible to find local producers who use sustainable farming practices. You will also be supporting the environment (reducing the need for foodstuff transportation) and your local community both economically and socially.
Buying local produce can also encourage eating seasonally. A fantastic way to sustain your immune health, through the provision of different nutrients our bodies require at the different times of the year, think summer fruits and berries and winter roots. Visiting your local farmers market can be a great way to find out more about producers and products available in your area.
4. Grow Your Own
Growing your own organic produce is the gold standard of knowing exactly what’s been added or not to your veggies. As well as delivering delicious cheap produce you will have the added benefits of feeling the accomplishment of growing your own, and your gut health will also benefit from getting down and dirty in your local soil full of healthy microbes. This will also benefit your immediate environment through the preservation of the soil’s biodiversity, and saving energy. Sharing your produce with your family and friends will also fuel gut microbiome and health too. Even if you only have a window box then start small and you may end up getting hooked!