Runner’s Zen: The Dirty Dozen

The growing trend of buying organic has become more popular recently than I’ve ever seen before, but what do you know about buying organic? Are there certain foods that are more important to buy organic? Less important? Does it actually even matter? I’ve heard arguments for each side of the fence, but I want to lay out the facts for you and allow you to come to your own conclusions.

There are a lot of reasons to buy organic. Organic produce needs to come from farms that use no pesticides or chemicals on their fruits and vegetables, which also means the soil, water and wildlife in and around that farm is also healthier and less polluted. The farmers aren’t exposed to as many dangerous chemicals, and less fossil fuels are converted into fertilizer. Organic farms also help conserve water because of the elimination of chemicals and nitrogen leaching. Not only is it environmentally friendly to buy and support organic, but are there foods that are more important to buy organic than others in terms of physical health? Absolutely.

The list of foods that are more important to buy organic are called “The Dirty Dozen”. It’s a list of foods with the highest pesticide residue on them, which if you’re eating a lot of them, means you’re ingesting more pesticides than you might think.

  1. Apples
    More than 40 different pesticides has been found on apples because fungus and insects are prominent in the orchards, which means the farmer has to to spray various kinds and amounts of chemicals on them. The pesticides are also linked to apple juice and apple sauce as well. Peeling the apples helps reduce pesticide ingestion, but peeling the apple also peels away a lot of the nutritional value that hangs out on the underside of the skin.
  2. Celery
    The USDA has detected over 60 different chemicals on celery, a safer alternative is broccoli, radish and onions, as they’re also quite crunchy and delicious.
  3. Strawberries
    Strawberries are popular on the Dirty Dozen list. Due to the fungus that could grow on the strawberries, the farmers spray various chemicals which remain on the berries as they travel to and get sold in the market. How many times have you ate a strawberry without washing it? Nearly 60 different chemicals have been found on strawberries, however fewer chemicals are found on frozen strawberries.
  4. Peaches
    Like strawberries, peaches have been found to have almost 60 different chemicals on them, however MUCH fewer have been found on canned peaches.
  5. Spinach
    Both fresh and frozen spinach have been shown to have over 50 different chemicals on it. Canned spinach has fewer detected pesticides.
  6. Nectarines
    Domestic nectarines don’t show to have as many chemicals, but overall nectarines check in at having around 33 different chemicals on them.
  7. Grapes
    Grapes have around 30 different chemicals on them when tested, and around the same was found on raisins…. I wonder what that means for wine?
  8. Sweet Bell Peppers
    These colorful veggies make the Dirty Dozen list with a whopping 50 different pesticides on them.
  9. Potatoes
    Potatoes are so popular and such a staple in the average person’s diet, but they bring in about 35 different pesticides, however sweet potatoes offer less chance of chemical residue.
  10. Blueberries
    Blueberries bring in about 50 different kinds of chemicals, frozen blueberries often times have fewer chemicals. Alternatives like cranberries and cherries unfortunately bring in a lot of chemicals as well.
  11. Lettuce
    Lettuce is up there in the chemical count as well with around 50 different chemicals being detected. Often leafy greens are contaminated with chemicals, so a nice alternative would be asparagus!
  12. Kale
    I’ve been known to be basically obsessed with kale so I was shocked at this. It doesn’t typically attract pests, but it was tested and ranked in with high amounts of pesticide residue.

This list is great in terms of giving you an idea of the types of vegetables and fruits that are high in chemical residue. My rule of thumb when it comes to determining whether to buy organic or not, is if I’m going to be eating the vegetables and fruit as is, meaning I’m not peeling off a thick peel. Fruits like oranges and bananas that come with a thick skin that I’m not consuming I’m not as worried about buying organic as I am a berry or vegetable that I could eat off the shelf.

Another big concern when buying organic is buying organic meat. When you hear the phrase “you are what you eat”, it’s ACTUALLY “you are what you eat, ate”. Fatty meats are high in chemicals because chemicals are stored in the fat of the animal, just as they do in a human. Animals that are raised organic are free of antibiotics, added hormones, GMO feed and other drugs. They are raised in a healthier environment, fed organic feed and eat a wider range of nutrients! When you’re eating non-organic meat, you’re eating the corn/chemicals/waste that the animals may have ate… thoughts on that?

Whether you think eating organic is important or not, the decision is ultimately up to you. Are there certain foods you go out of your way to buy organic? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Until next time – stay healthy!


Happy Lifting!

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5 comments for “Runner’s Zen: The Dirty Dozen

  1. Anonymous
    December 3, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Thanks Colin!! 🙂

  2. December 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Thanks Matt!!! Glad it got you thinking – let me know what you find out! 🙂

    • December 2, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      Will do!

      • December 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm

        Definitely interested myself. I’m streaky with organic, I will from time to time but have no consistency with it. When I do it’s usually berries, never meat though… Good stuff Sarah!

  3. December 2, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Fungicides, pesticides, fertilizers – you definitely made me think. I’ve never been a huge believer in organic, believe it or not, but I’m definitely going to look into more of this regarding contaminant absorption and how much can be washed off. Thanks for the food for though, so to speak. I really enjoyed this post Sarah, great information!

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