With summer upon us and farmer's markets officially open for business across the country, there's never been a better time to take advantage of the locally grown, often organic, produce the markets provide.
Eating organic can reduce your consumption of pesticides by 95 percent within two weeks. Although there is not a lot of data from long-term studies yet, there are some studies that show that pesticides can be associated with health risks such as cancer, attention-deficit disorder, nervous system disorders, and weakening of the immune system. So, any way that you can reduce or eliminate pesticides in your diet should be pursued. While buying all of your fresh fruits and vegetables organic can be more expensive and not always available to you, farmer's markets in the summer offer a great opportunity to find organic produce grown in your area at reduced prices from grocery store chains.
Even if you cannot buy all your produce organically, as you head out to browse the booths, it is important to note the "Dirty Dozen." What is the "Dirty Dozen?" According to a report released by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit focused on public health, you can reduce your exposure to pesticides by 80 percent if you buy organic the fruits and vegetables dubbed the "Dirty Dozen." The "Dirty Dozen" is a group of fruit and vegetables that contain the highest pesticides levels per serving. They can contain 47 to 67 different pesticides per serving. This group of fruits and vegetables are the most prone to high pesticide levels because of their soft skin, which allows them to absorb more pesticides. Therefore, buying this group of fruits and vegetables organic is highly recommended. If you are wondering if you can just wash the pesticides away, the answer is "not really" according to reports. The produce looked at in the reports used were power washed, but still remained high in pesticides because they are very tough to remove. Also, although pesticides will be on the outside of produce, other pesticides will be present on the inside from being absorbed up through the roots and cannot be removed. It is important to note that washing, while it does not remove pesticides, is still necessary to remove dirt and bacteria.
There is a group of fruits and vegetables that are considered to have low pesticide levels and are not as necessary to buy organic. This group is of fruits and vegetables, called the "Clean 15" contain a strong outer layer which provides protection against pesticides. This group of produce is a good choice if you aren't able to buy everything organic.