You probably know that buying organic fruits and vegetables is better for you... even if you aren't totally sure why. But, of course, organic food can be crazy expensive, which definitely sucks, even if there's a good reason for it. Organic fruit and vegetables are different because they're grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Farm food has to be inspected before it heads to the store, and companies have to be certified to handle or process organic food. But if you don't want to shell out for organic everything, there are some options that are safer than others. Cantaloupes and avocados, for example, are less likely to have many pesticides since they have a protective outer barrier. The following 12 fruits and veggies are most likely to be contaminated.
Strawberries are prone to getting munched on by bugs. Farmers turn to pesticides to grow them cheaply. Keep in mind that whether or not strawberries are grown organic, they are often grown in soil that has pesticides. So they're not actually 100 percent free of the stuff.
Studies done by the USDA Pesticide Data Program found that there can be as many as 56 different pesticide residues on non-organic grapes. But when you wash grapes, you could remove up to 75 percent of that residue. Rinse them in water until the water runs clean. Grapes are a great source of the antioxidant resveratrol that could help you drop some pounds. If that resveratrol sounds familiar, that's because it's also in wine, since obviously wine is made from grapes. You don't actually have to drink alcohol to get the antioxidant benefits.
The USDA Pesticide Data Program has found 64 different types of pesticides on some celery. The best way to clean celery is to trim the edges and remove the strings before washing. Celery is a great source of vitamin K and also has good amounts of folate, vitamin A, potassium, and vitamin C. It's super low in calories and high in water content so it can be pretty filling in a salad or other meals.
According to a University of California Department of Food Science and Technology study, domestically grown peaches are exposed to more pesticides than the imported fruit, which is something to keep in mind. You might wrongly assume the opposite. Peaches are high in potassium, niacin, and vitamin A and C, as well as being a good source of fiber and one of the tastiest snacks out there. Seriously, what is a summer without a juicy peach? They can be hard to find, so you might as well buy organic when you can, since they come around only once a year.
Spinach, kale, and lettuce all contain about 50 types of pesticides when they come from non-organic farms. Being so leafy, they can be a bit challenging to properly wash, so it's greenly recommended that you buy these greens organic. Remember that frozen spinach is going to have fewer pesticides than fresh spinach. Leafy greens are super healthy for you so any way you're comfortable eating them will definitely benefit your health.
It's easier to keep the bugs away from apples with the help of pesticides, and they're often waxed before they hit the shelves, which can make washing off the gunk much trickier. They do make special fruits and veggies washing solutions but of course that also takes extra time. Buying organic can save you the time, and you might taste the difference when you bite into apple skins without wax. Apples are a great source of the fiber pectin which helps to regulate your digestive system and might help with weight loss, so buying them organic might be a good investment.
6 Sweet Bell Peppers
Sweet bell peppers are known to be exposed to nearly 50 pesticides, and are also known to carry about 11. But the good thing about bell peppers is that they make salads a lot more interesting, and they are also great sources of vitamin C. If we're talking red bell peppers, they also have a ton of Vitamin A. By the way, green peppers are just harvested before they're ripe, so they're all basically the same type.
5 Imported Nectarines
A study done by the USDA found that every imported nectarine has at least one pesticide... but maybe residue from 33. Domestically grown ones can be a better option, especially if they're organic. Nectarines only have around 62 calories for a medium sized one, and they are a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. You might think of foods like carrots being the winners when it comes to beta-carotene and they are, but anything with an orange skin is good in that sense.
Cucumbers can have the residue of as many as 86 different pesticides. However, most of those are on the skin of the cucumber, and are not as likely as some other fruits and vegetables to seep inside. You can scrub the outside pretty well and can remove the skin completely if you want. Cucumbers are really good for you. Despite seeming pretty basic and full of water, they are awesome sources of vitamin K, the B vitamins, copper, potassium, vitamin C, and manganese. They also contain an anti-inflammatory flavonoid called fisetin that might help protect the brain.
3 Cherry Tomatoes
Some reports have found that cherry tomatoes often test positive for 13 different types of pesticides. Go for organic when possible and always wash them, too. Cherry tomatoes are bascially just a small version of a beefsteak tomato so they share all the same health benefits. Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, vitamin C, and beta-carotene, and they are also full of phytonutrients that lead to antioxidant protection throughout the body. They can reduce oxidative damage in the body, as well as lead to better antioxidant enzyme function in general.
2 Imported Snap Peas
Snap peas actually show up twice on the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Pesticides on Produce. Imported snap peas fall within the "dirty dozen" at the top of the list, and then domestic snap peas also hit the list at number 29. However, it's usually pretty easy to find sustainably grown sugar snaps at your local farmer's market. Sugar snap peas are a great source of vitamin C, and they only have 35 calories in each cup. Fun fact: the sugar snap pea is just a hybrid of green peas and and snow peas, developed in 1979.
Conventionally grown potatoes are often found with 35 different pesticides on their skins, and a lot of people forget to consider their potential pesticide levels. Since potatoes are a root vegetable, they absorb everything that is in the soil... which is where the pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides head after they are sprayed above ground. Go with organic especially if you like to eat the skin, which by the way is full of fiber and nutrients. Potatoes are a great source of vitamin B6, and a good source of potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fiber, and pantothenic acid.