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How Safe is Your Non-organic Fruit?

June 22, 2018

I was just at the grocery store, drooling over all the beautiful nectarines, apricots and peaches that are out and looking ripe, juicy and utterly delicious. But I always wonder, is it safe to eat if it’s not organic? My friend, Dawn, a Key West artist, has always been a big proponent of eating healthy, which means organic food to her, and most people.

But do we have to eat organic? Dawn sent me a print out from a magazine article about what non-organic fruits and vegetables are OK to eat, and what should always be bought organic. A lot of people don’t have the luxury of buying organic food because it can be pretty pricey. I happen to be one of them,  but when you think of pesticide residue going into your body, I guess I can’t really afford that either because one day I may be paying for it with my health.

I wondered, do pesticides really hurt you? How could a beautiful apricot be bad for me?

Innocent apricot

It looks so innocent. Apricots didn’t make the dirty dozen list, so there’s hope!

There isn’t much research on how harmful pesticides are when ingested with fruits and vegetables,  but there has been research on people who work with pesticides — either applying them, or picking the fruit –and that shows pesticide exposure definitely hurts you. I thought this article in Consumer Reports  called, “Eat the Peach, Not the Pesticide,” was pretty good.

I did some research and it looks like the article Dawn sent me was also in some other publications, like this one from 2010 on PBS So Cal. There is The Dirty Dozen, which you should always buy organic, and The Clean 15, which don’t need to be organic.

I’m listing them because it helped me and hopefully it can help you. I just broke down and spent the extra buck fifty for organic strawberries at Costco yesterday, so I’m hoping the more common organics become, the less expensive they’ll be! Thanks Dawn. (Writing about food is much more pleasant than tackling politics!)

The Dirty Dozen (Always Choose Organic)

  1. celery
  2. peaches
  3. strawberries
  4. apples
  5. domestic blueberries
  6. nectarines
  7. sweet bell peppers
  8. spinach, kale and collard greens
  9. cherries
  10. potatoes
  11. imported grapes
  12. lettuce

There was a slightly different list on the publication she sent me. It didn’t include domestic blueberries, but did include tomatoes and hot peppers. It didn’t specify imported grapes — just grapes, and it included pears.

The Clean Fifteen (Doesn’t Need to be Organic)

  1. onions
  2. avocados
  3. sweet corn
  4. pineapples
  5. mango
  6. sweet peas
  7. asparagus
  8. kiwi fruit
  9. cabbage
  10. eggplant
  11. cantaloupe
  12. watermelon
  13. grapefruit
  14. sweet potatoes
  15. sweet onions

And on this list,  watermelon  is listed as clean, but on the list Dawn sent, honeydew melon and cauliflower are listed as clean, which are not on this list. But overall, the lists were very similar.

Listen, don’t worry too much. Just go shopping and buy a juicy, (hopefully) organic nectarine, take a big bite, let the juice roll down your face and savor the sweetness. Now that’s summer! Hope you had a Happy Summer Equinox!

  • Reply
    Wayne & Daisy Wilkins
    July 12, 2018 at 7:57 am

    Existing under the direction of my daughter, Dawn the great artist from Key West and this idea of ORGANIC, HAS BECOME A RITUAL. Just turning 88 and never heard of ORGANIC until recently (how long ago?) and living this long WITHOUT ORGANIC, I cannot answer your inquiry Fran. Was the Blackberry jam organic? Doesn’t cooking canning etc get rid of the, whatever it is, help? Wayne Wilkins

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      July 16, 2018 at 11:38 pm

      Dear Wayne and Daisy, yes the blackberry preserves I sent were organic. I picked them myself and I know for a fact, their owners do not use pesticides on them. Luckily, not many bugs here in California. Canning only gets rid of the potentially harmful bacteria that can make you sick, but the chemicals in fruits and vegetables you eat can stay in your system and harm you. Dawn loves you both so much, that’s why she’s all about eating organic! I hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Petrea Burchard
    June 22, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    Thank you, Fran and Daw, for those lists! Already copy/pasted to take with me next time I shop.

  • Reply
    EmilyAnn Frances
    June 22, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Hi Fran. So much depends on socio-economics. In the process of looking for a new apartment I spent a lot of time walking around different neighborhoods. Things definitely improve as the neighborhood becomes more middle-class. In some of the rundown areas the “fresh fruit and vegetables” at the supermarket look like what fell off the truck.

    I do not know what the answer is to get this kind of food to everyone. Sure, there are community gardens in some places. It’s just that working full-time and commuting does not lend to a return-to-nature lifestyle.

    I do like the idea of community gardens tended voluntarily by retirees and students. Then they can sell to the community they live in and earn some money from the sale.

  • Reply
    June 22, 2018 at 6:55 am

    I am utterly blessed by having a year round farmer’s market nearby that has over 30 farmers each week with organic and/or sustainably grown produce. I found one trick to keeping organic produce in the budget is to always buy in season and as local as possible. It also makes the arrival of seasonal fruit and vegetables fun–whether its cherries in the spring or delicata squash in the fall!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      June 22, 2018 at 8:33 am

      I agree, we have one in the town next to me, but it’s a little pricey and I’m on a budget. So, I do buy what I can, but I agree, buy in season. Blackberries in January are great but they come shipped from far away and that’s not doing the planet any favors. If we can just wait, it’s much better.

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