Chemicals and pesticides routinely used in food production have been a concern to me for many years. Logic tells me that the regular, low level consumption of these chemicals can only have negative consequences to human health.

Now UN human rights experts are calling for global restrictions on the use of pesticides because of their link to chronic diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, sterility, hormone disruption and developmental disorders. (1)

Choosing to switch to entirely organic, (local and preferably in seasonal as well) can be costly. We decided some years ago that this was an expense we were willing to incur as the health of our family is a top priority.

However, not everyone can afford to make the switch to entirely organic food. Fortunately, help is at hand! The Environmental Working Group have produced a list of fruit and veg that rank (and update yearly), the highest in pesticide load (known as the Dirty Dozen), and the Clean 15, which are those containing the lowest levels of pesticides. This is a really good starting point for prioritising your organic shopping! (2)

The Dirty Dozen

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet Bell Peppers
  12. Potatoes

The Clean 15

  1. Sweetcorn
  2. Avocado
  3. Pineapple
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Papaya
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mango
  10. Eggplant (Aubergine)
  11. Honeydew (melon)
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe (melon)
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Grapefruit

If you are still not convinced that it is worth making a switch, have a read of Guy Watson’s Riverford report on the cocktail effect of pesticides here.

What about Animal Produce?

According to a recent report published by the European Parliament, more antibiotics are used in conventional farming of animals than for human health. (3) So if like me, you are concerned about antibiotic resistance then it is worth knowing that organic farming standards restrict the use of antibiotics and prohibit their routine use.

Switching to organic animal produce can be even more costly than switching fruit and veg. If you are unable to buy completely organic then at least consider switching to grass-fed and free-range. These animals should be happier, and in turn should have better health. If they are healthier then one would assume the quality of their produce would be better.

We buy most of our meat from Riverford because I trust that they go well beyond the minimum standards required from organic farming practices. Their farming is sustainable and kinder to the animals as well as the environment. All these factors are an important choice when considering how we eat.

If you would like to try a Riverford box, (fruit, veg, meat or make your own), check out their website here. If you decide to purchase a regular box, either weekly or fortnightly, then remember to use code Nudi-gift in the section where it asks about relevant offers or promotions, and you will be sent a free cookbook!

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