There are many reasons why you should eat organic and more and more people are becoming aware of the issues surrounding conventional food production. One of the major reason people choose to buy organic fruits and vegetables is to reduce intake of pesticides normally found in conventional foods.

Below is the "BLACK" list of fruits and vegetables that contains the highest levels of pesticide.

  • Nectarines (over 97% contain pesticides)
  • Celery (over 94% contain pesticides)
  • Pears (over 94% contain pesticides)
  • Peaches (over 93% contain pesticides)
  • Apples (over 90% contain pesticides)
  • Cherries (over 90% contain pesticides)
  • Strawberries (over 89% contain pesticides)
  • Imported Grapes (over 85% contain pesticides)
  • Spinach (over 83% contain pesticides)
  • Potatoes (over 79% contain pesticides)
  • Bell Peppers (over 67% contain pesticides)
  • Red Raspberries (over 58% contain pesticides)
Below are some more interesting facts about the pesticide contamination levels of fruits and vegetables in the "BLACK" list:

The Fruits
  • Peaches were found to have the highest likelihood of containing multiple pesticides on a single sample, followed by nectarines and apples.
  • Bell Peppers where found to have the most pesticide detected on a single sample with approximately eleven pesticides on a single sample, followed by peaches and apples, where nine pesticides were found on a single sample.
  • Peaches where found to have the most pesticides overall with some combinations of up to 42 different pesticides, followed by apples with 37 and strawberries with 35.
The Vegetables
  • Celery was found to have the highest percentage of samples testing positive for pesticides, followed by bell peppers and potatoes.
  • Celery was found to have the highest likelihood of multiple pesticides, followed by spinach and bell peppers.
  • Bell peppers where found to contain the most pesticides detected on a single sample, followed by celery.
  • Bell peppers where found to have the most pesticides overall.
It is possible to lower your pesticide intake simply by avoiding the top 12 list, try to eat these organic foods, as non-organic produce still contains residual pesticides even after washing.

And remember eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables will expose a person, on average, to approximately 20 pesticides per day.

*Based on United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Consumer Reports, and the Environmental Working Group.

As summer is approaching try this wonderful fruit salad, organic of course!!!

Fruit Salad

1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1 punnet strawberries, stemmed and halved
1 half-punnet raspberries
1 half-punnet basket blueberries
2 oranges, peeled, and cut into sections
3 Tbsp fresh mint leaves

In a medium bowl, whisk juice and honey; add remaining ingredients. Toss gently to combine; chill 1 hour.

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Andy Jones, Resurgence magazine, January/February 2003.

Buying organic produce is one way to reduce society's unsustainable dependence on fossil fuels. It is a given that the growing, preparation, transport and purchase of what we eat involves burning fossil fuels. However, the thirstiest component of this usage is not fuelling the trucks that take our food to market, it is the production of chemicals used in agriculture.

Conventional agriculture uses large amounts of petroleum-based ingredients in the artificial fertilisers used to increase yields and maximise production from available farmland. According to research carried out by Perth's Murdoch University, around one-third of the world's protein intake depends on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser. Petroleum-based ingredients also make up a large portion of the pesticides that kill pests, and harm the health of consumers.

Not only is this process speeding up our consumption of a non-renewable resource, it is also doing untold damage to the agricultural land that feeds us; the same land that will be relied upon to feed generations to come. According to researchers at Murdoch, "leaching to water bodies and ground water is leading to pollution problems, soil acidification and other adverse side effects."

Organic foodstuffs, on the other hand, are not reliant on artificial fertilisers and chemicals that boost yields and temporarily make farmers' accountants smile, even as they damage farmland.Retailers such as The Organic Grocer sell food that is free of pesticide, herbicide and genetic modification; ensuring farmland continues to be valuable in years to come. The Organic Grocer's products are subject to inspection by the Organic Retailers and Growers Association of Australia to ensure they comply with that body's definition of organic.

It is inevitable that more consumers will be attracted to products resulting from this superior method of farming. Despite its lower yields and smaller market share, the organic-food industry will not always produce goods at a higher price in years to come. Conventional agriculture's continued reliance on fossil fuels ensures that food grown this way has a greater exposure to the whims of world oil prices. With the risk of conflict in the Middle East spreading to Iran, one of the world's biggest oil producers, prices already under pressure from increasing economic activity in India and China could well skyrocket even further. Perhaps only then will the folly of our addiction to "edible oil" be realised.

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