Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones. The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows: Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.
What is Locally Grown?
Locally grown is a less definitive term, some say it applies only to foods grown within a 100-mile radius, others stretch it to 250-miles, and one pioneer of the movement defines it as food grown within a “day’s leisurely drive from your home.”
It also usually means seasonal food from small farms, as opposed to the massive agribusinesses where most supermarket food comes from. Modification and irradiation are off limits.
Keep in mind that many local farmers do NOT use pesticides….however, they can’t advertise themselves as certified organic because it’s a long and expensive process for certification. Therefore, if you’d like to support your local farmers (and organic matters to you), ask local farmers about their farming methods, you may be pleasantly surprised with the answers.
Why Buy Local?
Locally grown equals maximum nutrition. Freshly harvested produce has nutrients that are depleted during transportation and storage. The average grocery store vegetable travels 1500 miles and is a week old.
- Variety. Many of the best tasting fruits and vegetables are too tender to withstand shipping and handling.
- Assurance of farm practices. Much of the produce imported into our country has been treated with chemicals that are banned or unregulated in the U.S. Meat, poultry and dairy products when raised locally using sustainable practices eliminate the use of hormones and antibiotics. When you buy from local farmers questions about farming techniques can usually be answered reliably.
- Local farmer support. Marketing directly to consumers allows small farms to capture a greater percentage of profit, making it possible to survive. Ensuring the economic viability of the farmland makes it less vulnerable to development.
- Supporting the local economy. By spending your dollars in the community your money remains cycling within the local economy.
- Direct environmental effects. Buying local reduces the amount of fossil fuels used for transportation and the packaging required for shipping. When farms use environmentally friendly practices, your produce does not pollute the soil and ground water as it grows.
Where else does your food dollar pay for guaranteed freshness, flavorful variety, maximum nutrition, environmental protection, farmland preservation and support of the local economy? http://www.farmersfreshproduce.com/
Why Should You Care About Pesticides?
There is growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can adversely affect people, especially during vulnerable periods of fetal development and childhood when exposures can have long lasting effects. The toxic effects of pesticides are worrisome, not well understood, or in some cases completely unstudied, shoppers are wise to minimize exposure to pesticides whenever possible. Will Washing and Peeling Help?
While washing and rinsing fresh produce may reduce levels of some pesticides, it does not eliminate them. Peeling also reduces exposures, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the peel. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.
When Should You Buy Organic?
If you’re concerned about food safety, you probably already choose organic produce. But if you can’t always buy organic, you can still dramatically lower your family’s exposure to chemical pesticides by choosing the least pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables with the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.
What is Produce Pesticide Load?
Produce Pesticide Load is the level of toxic pesticides on produce. The produce ranking was developed by analysts at the not-for-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) based on the results of nearly 43,000 tests for pesticides on produce collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2004. A full list of fresh fruits and vegetables that have been tested is included below.
EWG is a not-for-profit environmental research organization dedicated to improving public health and protecting the environment by reducing pollution in air, water and food. For more information please visit http://www.ewg.org/.
What are the Top Toxic Loaded Produce?
EWG’s computer analysis found that consumers could cut their pesticide exposure by almost 90 percent by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated instead.
Eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables will expose a person to about 15 pesticides a day, on average. Eating the 12 least contaminated will expose a person to fewer than two pesticides a day.
“Federal produce tests tell us that some fruits and vegetables are so likely to be contaminated with pesticides that you should always buy them organic,” said Richard Wiles, EWG’s senior vice president. “Others are so consistently clean that you can eat them with less concern. EWG’s analysis of federal testing data found:
- Peaches and apples topped the Dirty Dozen list. Almost 97 percent of peaches tested positive for pesticides, and almost 87 percent had two or more pesticide residues. About 92 percent of apples tested positive, and 79 percent had two or more pesticides. The rest of the Dirty Dozen include sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce, and potatoes.
- Onions, avocados, and sweet corn headed the Consistently Clean list. For all three foods, more than 90 percent of the samples tested had no detectable pesticide residues. Others on the Consistently Clean list include pineapples, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli, and papaya.
The Full List- Highest to Lowest Pesticide Load of 43 Fruits & Veggies:
Peaches (highest pesticide load), Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Pears, Grapes – Imported, Spinach, Lettuce, Potatoes, Carrots, Green Beans, Hot Peppers, Cucumbers, Raspberries, Plums, Grapes – Domestic, Oranges, Grapefruit, Tangerine, Mushrooms, Cantaloupe, Honeydew Melon, Tomatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Watermelon, Winter Squash, Cauliflower, Blueberries, Papaya, Broccoli, Cabbage, Bananas, Kiwi, Sweet peas – frozen, Asparagus, Mango, Pineapples, Sweet Corn – frozen, Avocado, Onions (lowest pesticide load)
Note: There are a total of 43 different fruits and vegetables but grapes are listed twice because of both domestic and imported samples.