Cavemen didn’t need to worry about pesticides and additives in their food, but for the health-conscious consumers of today, knowing when to spend a little extra for natural, organic foods is invaluable.
It’s no secret. Organic food can cost more than double the price of conventional foods. But does the label “organic” or “100% natural” mean a product is worth twice as much?
Experts agree that in many cases the answer is a resounding “Yes!” At least ten organic foods head the list of those you should buy—even if it means paying more—every time you shop.
At the top of the list are apples. The non-organic varieties are sprayed with more pesticides than any other fruit or vegetable—as many as 36 poisons. Right behind them in the chemically treated department are cucumbers, strawberries, spinach and grapes, especially those imported from Chili.
Following the top five produce items you should always buy organic are cantaloupe, green beans, and winter squash. Again, pesticides are the culprit. The other two in the top ten are processed foods—baby food and milk. Infants, in particular, are susceptible to the effects of inorganic chemicals, bovine growth hormone and antibiotics found in these.
Other “should buy” organic products include bell peppers, celery, cherries, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes and raspberries. Even after washing, fruits and vegetables can still contain high levels of pesticide residue.
On the flip side, there are certain expensive organic items that are a waste of extra money. The less expensive commercial versions are just fine. Among fruits, these include bananas, kiwi, mangos, papaya and pineapples. Similarly, commercial vegetables that can be consumed safely include asparagus, avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, onions and peas.
As for meats, many nutritionists advise substituting free-range or organically fed animal products for those full of antibiotics and growth hormones.
However, when it comes to seafood, producers are allowed to make their own organic claims. Both wild and farmed fish containing such contaminants as mercury and PCBs may be labeled organic, so paying extra is no safeguard and not worth the price.
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