Food as Medicine: Eat Organic

  • In the past couple of months we have discussed several dietary changes that may help you to reduce your overall inflammation.  In addition to these changes, it is a good idea to eat organically as much as possible.  This will further limit your exposure to toxins like pesticides that may exacerbate inflammation.

    When looking for organic produce, learn how to decode the labels. 

    • Food labeled "100% Organic" is, just that, all organic. 
    • Food is labeled "Organic" 95% of the product has to be organic. 
    • "Made With Organic Ingredients" means at least 70% has to be organic.
    • Touting the label "Contains Organic Ingredients" applies to foods containing 70% or lower organic ingredients. 

    When you are at the store buying produce you can also check out the number on the produce sticker to determine what you are buying.  Any produce with the 5-didgit code starting with "9" is organic produce.

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    One complaint many people have is the increased cost to purchase organic foods.  If you are also concerned with the cost, it may be wise to start by buying organic foods that offer the most "bang for your buck".   This means buying foods that are most likely to have high pesticide levels organically and buying conventional produce when pesticide exposure is minimal.

    Some produce that tends to have higher levels of pesticides and should be purchased organically are:  apples, bell pepper, cucumber, celery, potatoes, grapes, cheery tomatoes, kale and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, spinach, strawberries and hot peppers.  Remember that washing will not remove pesticides that have been absorbed into the skin.  Peeling may remove some pesticide from these foods but it also removes valuable nutrients.  Your best bet it to spend your organic budget on these foods.

    You can save money buying conventionally grown foods that have lower levels of pesticide.  These foods include: asparagus, avocado, mushrooms, cabbage, sweet corn, eggplant, kiwi, mango, onion, papaya, pineapple, sweet peas, sweet potatoes, grapefruit and cantaloupe.  For all other foods buy organic when possible and wash your produce well with an organic cleaner made for that purpose.

    It may seem like a lot of work trying to figure out what to buy, but once you get the hang of it it will be like second nature.  Planning a menu with brands and foods you know are clean will help you to keep your grocery shopping quick and healthy!

Published On: April 25, 2014