The Dirty Dozen-To Buy Organic or Not?

The Dirty Dozen-To Buy Organic or Not?
  Gorgeous picture right? That is what a normal trip from the Farmers Market looks like for me once a week.  I am super grateful to have these amazing Markets here in L.A. 😉 So maybe you are trying to eat healthy and make the right the decisions starting by including more fruits and vegetables in your diet.  Great job! That is the first step and hopefully you are feeling good about your smart decisions. But now to the next curve ball you might be facing is -  To buy organic or not? (There was a recent study out this month stating that there was not a significant difference in buying organic vs. conventional. The study had a big focus on meat.  Well, as with any study, did it really cover everything and analyize everything to the very last finding? I am not convinced and I have been getting asked what I thought. So here we go.)  Well, I will say always buy organic, that is me and I could go on and on for the reasons why, plus I am a strong believer in supporting your local Farmers.  But that really is another topic of discussion, so let's keep things simple shall we! I know some of you will say it is another scare tactic and that your grandparent's are still healthy as can be and they never eat organic and that is fine.  This is just my input. I have 2 very strong personal reasons (along with many others) on why I choose Organic.  For one, I personally have never felt better since I have really focused and been more conscious with my health and nutrition and I know choosing Organic (when possible) has been a big contributing factor. Secondly, the Taste is completely different! Organic "anything" just tastes out-of-this-world delicious. Me being the Moni Meals Chef that I am...this reason alone gets my vote! The proof regardless of how you feel on the matter, is that the more pesticide's that you have in your body, the more chances you have that your hormones can get "wonky" along with other issues arising. This can be mood swings, mental disorders (anxiety/depression), and weight issues just to name a few. Ummm, No thanks.  It is called Toxicity, Less-Nutritional Value, and Harmful Health and Environmental Safety! Think about it, why would you want MORE of that? So whether you are on a budget and need to prioritize your organic purchases, or you would simply like to know which type of produce has the highest pesticide residues—and which do not—I got it covered for you.  I find The Dirty Dozen- (the list of the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables) to be very important to understanding and you really should have an idea of what is being done to the foods you eat.  Seriously, who likes an apple flown in from Chile that is not organic and covered in wax? No Thanks again! I honestly would prefer to find a bug on produce rather than it being so shiny, plastic "fake-looking," and LOADED with dozens of different pesticides flown in from 3,000 miles away. You can reduce your exposure to pesticides by as much as 80% if you avoiding the most contaminated foods in the grocery store. (Blueberries are one of the dirtiest berries on the market, as much as 52 different pesticides!! But don't panic, I took this picture in my kitchen and the berries came from the Farmer's Market in Santa Monica and they are very organic and delicious!) When buying fruits and vegetables, there are definitely some that you NEED to pay attention to (The Dirty Dozen) and that you really SHOULD  buy only Organic. Other fruits and vegetables may not be contaminated but I highly encourage you to do your best to buy organic when it is possible.  Do not get me started on "But Buying Organic is just too expensive..." Oh Please, I will do a post on that to come. It is very affordable if you do it right, you can start buy finding your local Farmers Market, mmm- k! Below is the list of the Most and Least Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables. PAY ATTENTION TO THEM:

 12 Most Contaminated

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
Now for the fun facts...yummy. 😉  
1. Celery Celery has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the chemicals (64 of them!) that are used on crops. Buy organic celery, or choose alternatives like broccoli, radishes, and onions. 2. Peaches Multiple pesticides (as many as 62 of them) are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include watermelon, tangerines, oranges, and grapefruit. 3. Strawberries If you buy strawberries, especially out of season, they're most likely imported from countries that have less-stringent regulations for pesticide use. 59 pesticides have been detected in residue on strawberries. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include kiwi and pineapples. 4. Apples Like peaches, apples are typically grown with poisons to kill a variety of pests, from fungi to insects. Tests have found 42 different pesticides as residue on apples. Scrubbing and peeling doesn't eliminate chemical residue completely, so it's best to buy organic when it comes to apples. Peeling a fruit or vegetable also strips away many of their beneficial nutrients. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include watermelon, bananas, and tangerines. 5. Blueberries New on the Dirty Dozen list in 2010, blueberries are treated with as many as 52 pesticides, making them one of the dirtiest berries on the market. 6. Nectarines With 33 different types of pesticides found on nectarines, they rank up there with apples and peaches among the dirtiest tree fruit. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include, watermelon, papaya, and mango. 7. Bell peppers Peppers have thin skins that don't offer much of a barrier to pesticides. They're often heavily sprayed with insecticides. (Tests have found 49 different pesticides on sweet bell peppers.) Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include green peas, broccoli, and cabbage. 8. Spinach New on the list for 2010, spinach can be laced with as many as 48 different pesticides, making it one of the most contaminated green leafy vegetable. 9. Kale Traditionally, kale is known as a hardier vegetable that rarely suffers from pests and disease, but it was found to have high amounts of pesticide residue when tested this year. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include cabbage, asparagus, and broccoli. 10. Cherries Even locally grown cherries are not necessarily safe. In fact, in one survey in recent years, cherries grown in the U.S. were found to have three times more pesticide residue then imported cherries. Government testing has found 42 different pesticides on cherries. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include raspberries and cranberries. 11. Potatoes America's popular spud reappears on the 2010 Dirty Dozen list, after a year hiatus. America's favorite vegetable can be laced with as many as 37 different pesticides. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include eggplant, cabbage, and earthy mushrooms. 12. Grapes Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically. Only imported grapes make the 2010 Dirty Dozen list. Vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides during different growth periods of the grape, and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape's thin skin. Remember, wine is made from grapes, which testing shows can harbor as many as 34 different pesticides. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include kiwi and raspberries. (Source)

12 Least Contaminated

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

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Love Monica Nelson

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I am not a Registered Dietitian. While my advice relies on my own personal experience and research, what has been successful for myself and others may be not best for you. You should always consult your doctor when making changes to your diet. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me at

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