If you are trying to eat healthily and sustainable, but finding that food prices keep you from buying all organic products, you might want to try shopping selectively. MSN has come out with a slide show of the top 12 foods that you should buy organic. Also, thedailygreen.com listed the top ten vegetables, fruits and grains that you should buy organic. This list is from the consumer's union's 2001 report on the EPA.
For consumers, the simplest solution is to choose organic foods, which contain two-thirds fewer residues. The foods below are highest in pesticides, and therefore best to buy organic.
Meat and Dairy - There's the likelihood that chicken, pork, and cow feed is grown with the help of pesticides, antibiotics and chemicals. Similar to milk and milk-based dairy products, many chemical pesticides could end up in the animal, which may end up in you. The fat in dairy products is another haven for pesticides, antibiotics, and bovine growth hormones. These get passed on to you through commercial milk, cheese, and butter. Organic dairies do not use chemicals or growth hormones like rGBH or rbST.
Coffee - Many of the beans you buy are grown in countries that don't regulate the use of chemicals and pesticides. Look for the Fair Trade Certified label on the coffee package or can; it will give you some assurance that chemicals and pesticides were not used on the plants. It will also mean that fair prices were paid for the end product in support of the farm that supplied the coffee, and that the farm workers are treated fairly.
Strawberries - On average, strawberries receive a dose of up to 500 pounds of pesticides per acre. If you buy strawberries out of season, they're most likely imported from countries that use less-than-stringent regulations for pesticide use.
Celery - has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the twenty-nine different chemicals that are used on conventional crops.
Apples - Scrubbing and peeling a fruit doesn't eliminate chemical residue completely
Peaches- Forty-five different pesticides are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards.
Grapes - Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically. Vineyards can be sprayed with 35 different pesticides during different growth periods during the season and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape's permeable thin skin.
Sweet Bell Peppers - Peppers have thin skins that don't offer much of a barrier to pesticides. They're one of the most heavily sprayed vegetables out there and may be coated with nearly 40 commonly used pesticides meant to keep them insect-free.
Lettuce- Leafy greens are frequently contaminated with what are considered the most potent pesticides used on food.
Potatoes- America's popular spud ranks highest for pesticide residue. It may also be tainted by fungicides added to the soil for growing.
Tomatoes- The standard regimen of pesticides used on conventionally raised tomatoes numbers 30. Their easily punctured skins are no match for chemicals that will eventually permeate the whole tomato.
Other foods to buy organic:
Winter Squash Wheat
Dairy products and beef: Monsanto's Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) was approved for use by the FDA nearly 20 years ago and has raised concerns ever since. This hormone forces dairy cows to produce more milk when raised conventionally and opponents believe that it poses serious health risks to humans. Aside from growth hormones, milk cows and beef cattle are normally not allowed to graze freely and beef cattle may be force fed in overcrowded stock pens to quickly bring up their weight. Animals are packed so tightly together that heavy doses of antibiotics are necessary to keep down the levels of infection and disease. The same applies to chicken and pig farms, where thousands of animals are jammed together in large buildings and sadly many of them never see the sun in their entire lives!
You are what you eat, even if you don’t care about how these animals are raised. Stressed out farm animals loaded full of growth hormones, pesticide and herbicide residues and antibiotics not only aren't good for you, they also don't taste good. A happy animal equals better meat and dairy. This goes for eggs too. Crowded and unsanitary conditions only increase the chances of salmonella, mad cow disease or other stuff making its way into your kitchen.
Fruits and Vegetables: As stated above, some fruits and vegetables have thin permeable skins that allow pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizer residues to soak right in. No amount of washing will remove these chemicals, so if you buy conventional strawberries, peppers, celery or apples, just to name a few, be aware that you will be consuming the residue of up to 40 different fungicides, pesticides and herbicides. Some These pesticides are meant to kill things, and some are very persistent carcinogens and mutagens.
Wheat products: Conventional wheat has some of the highest pesticide residue levels on the market today. For this reason the Consumers Union suggests that you buy organic wheat and wheat products.
...Did you know? Food industry experts are saying that Wal-Mart could possibly become the nation’s largest seller of organic products, surpassing Whole Foods, because of two reasons: its 2,000 supercenters and its lower prices. Already, Wal-Mart is the largest seller in organic milk.