12 Jun
2012

Safe Vegetables and Fruits – Saving Money by not buying Everything Organic

Posted by Norman F

organic oranges

Why do people purchase organic fruits and vegetables?

  • Belief that they are healthier
  • No use of pesticides or chemicals
  • Better treatment of the land and workers
  • More nutritious than regular produce

A study in 2012 by Stanford Researchers found that organic produce and meat was not more nutritious, but did possess a 30% fewer risk of pesticide contamination. Clearly organic produce is more expensive and less available than traditional produce. Some consumers like ourselves believe in this farming methodology and are willing to pay a premium.

USDA Pesticide Residue Study

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released a list of fresh fruits and vegetables containing pesticide residues. While pesticide residues fell within the EPA’s tolerance level for safe food, concerned consumers may want to adjust their buying decisions based on the list.

Apples topped the list with 98% containing pesticide residue. Industry immediately shot back and said that growers are doing nothing illegal, they are just trying to keep their apples fresh and nutritious. Fungicides are routinely applied to apples because they are stored for several months before being sold. Items were washed in water for 10 seconds before being tested. Other items with high pesticide rates:

  • Apples – 98% contain pesticide residues
  • Grapes – 97
  • Strawberries – 96
  • Cilantro – 94
  • Potatoes – 92
  • Oranges – 85
  • Green Onions – 66
  • Sweet Potatoes – 48
  • Organic Lettuce – 20

We would definitely buy organic for items above 50%, others may draw their own conclusions.

Organic Vegetables and Fruit

Organic products are more expensive. I was looking for a guide that listed fruits and Veggies that one could save money by moving to non organic on less crucial items. See our post on the definition of organic.

FoodNews, run by the Environmental Working Group, has a list of 43 items with highest pesticide load. Peaches, Apple, Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries are way up there on the buy Organic list.

On the other end are items like Bananas, Kiwi, Asparagus, Sweet Peas-Frozen, Mango, Pineapples, Sweet Corn-Frozen, Avocado, and Onions, that I would consider not going Organic.

A recent article flags high pesticide levels in frozen blueberries, strawberries, and celery. There may be a link to pesticides and ADHD.

Consumer Reports.org also has an article on when it pays to buy organic.

While you will save money, non-organic products do subject farmers and the environment to pesticides.

It gets more complicated.. Recent articles have said that Choosing Organic Pesticides over Synthetic Pesticides May Not Effectively Mitigate Environmental Risk.

Be sure to read our article on organic and biodynamic wines.

Organic Lollipops

Couldn’t believe they have organic…

Amazon
has Organic Lollipops which are also allergen-free; gluten-free; GMO-free; egg-free; soy-free; nut-free; casein-free; dairy-free. What will become organic next?

Overheard… “Mom, Can I have a Lollipop? They’re organic so they must be good for you!”

Food Nutritional Scoring System – ONQI – NuVal

Organic bananas

NuVal.com has a food scoring system that “allows consumers to see – at a glance – the nutritional value of the food they buy.” Items are scored from 1 (Worst) to 100 (Best).

It was created by an independent team:

“The team of recognized nutrition and medical experts that developed the ONQI™ algorithm behind the NuVal™ System was entirely funded by Griffin Hospital without support from manufacturers or other parties interested in promoting specific foods.”

Soda gets a 1, Broccoli scores 100. Pretty easy to decode relative benefits of different foods.

Bulk Foods are Eco-Friendly and Save Money

bulk foods at whole foods

We have covered food packaging waste in the past. It is a waste of energy making all the paper and plastic that many foods come in, especially individual servings of items. Few packaging items get recycled. We pay extra money and create waste for the convenience.

Visit the bulk food isle of your local grocery store to save money and be more green. Some allow you to bring your own containers, saving a dreaded plastic bag. Whole foods is a good place with bulk foods.

Food Inc. – Food Industry Commercialization

Food Inc. was a sobering but enlightening movie. It covers the commercialization of the food industry. There are many costs when putting value and convenience over nutrition and environmental impact.

Shown were slaughterhouses and factory farms where chickens grow too fast to walk properly. Cows eat feed pumped with toxic chemicals. After watching this you want to become a vegetarian or at least stick to local, organic, and sustainable food.

The film shows Barbara Kowalcyk, who had lost her son to eating a hamburger with E. coli, and she’s now dedicated her life to trying to make the food system safer. But when they asked her what she eats, she told them she couldn’t tell them because she would be sued if she answered. Scary.

We learned about Roundup pesticide resistant soybean seed and their legal tactics. There are already weeds resistant to this pesticide. No surprise!

Eco-friendly, Green Wine – Biodynamic Wine – Organic Wine

Locanda wine by the tap

Eco-friendly in the green movement has hit the wine industry. Wine is a product of nature and careful nurture. The San Francisco area is ground zero for several large movements in wine.

Wine by the tap

Many are used to getting soda and beer from the tap. Be prepared to have wine from a tap after local restaurant. We have been to several restaurants offering wine this way, and found the results satisfying. While each restaurant only had a handful of wines by the tap, the wines available should satisfy many consumers.

By utilizing this methodology. Less wine is wasted, quality can be more consistent, glassed in Cork are not needed, and wine prices can be more affordable. Ask your local restaurant or bar to support this new wave. Frances and Locanda in San Francisco, are two top-notch restaurants serving wine this way.

Biodynamic wine

We saw Biodynamic wines listed on a restaurant’s wine menu and wondered what it meant. With the holiday season in full swing, a lot of wine is going to be bought, gifted and consumed. Folks want to be green so they are paying more attention to labels.

Biodynamic wines are wines made with grapes farmed without chemical fertilizers, genetic modification, animal by products, and pesticides. They view farming as a an ecosystem and contribute natural resources into it, rather than depleating it. Some farmers time the sun and moon phases to grow biodynamic crops. They allow only sulfides to be added to the wine. They are grown with Organic Fertilizers. This type of wine is popular in Europe as the movement started there in 1924.

Organic wine

Organic wine is made from organically grown grapes and made without added sulfites. No Synthetic pesticides are used, and no petroleum rich sewage sludge-based fertilizers, genetic modification, or radiation is used. Certified Organic Wines will have the USDA organic logo emblazon on them. If you get headaches after drinking wine and cannot tolerate sulfites, try an Organic wine.

You will also find Wines labeled made with Organic Grapes but not labeled USDA Organic. These probably have sulfites.

Be sure to recycle your wine corks and wine bottles.

Cantaloupes and Lettuce Listeria Fears

refrigerator, lettuce, vegetables

Food problems sicken 48 million people a year, causing 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3000 deaths. Unfortunately, the number of people affected has been growing in the last couple of years.

A Listeria fear was happening in September 2011. Cantaloupe from Colorado has been traced to Listeria illness and has caused 29 deaths, and has sickened at least 139 people in 28 states. In 1985 a listeria outbreak in California caused 28 deaths and 20 stillbirths or miscarriages.

Listeria is found in soil, water and the intestines of some animals. The FDA pinpointed the reason for the outbreak to Cantaloupe from a Colorado farm, but unsanitary conditions in the food packing facility is suspected of causing the problem.

One of the surprising facts that came out of the investigation, was that Jensen Farms was awarded a top safety rating by a for profit inspection company, known as a 3rd party auditor. The FDA does not have enough people to do all the testing itself in fact, it only inspected 6% of domestic food producers in 2011, and 0.4% of food importers. These auditing firms are not required to meet federal standards and have no government supervision. The inspection reports are not made public. Food that was covered by these auditing firms is responsible for sickening almost 3000 people and killing 43, within the United States.

Listeriosis primarily affects the elderly, pregnant women, newborns, and people with weakened immune systems. See your doctor if you feel you are affected.

Romaine lettuce from Salinas, California, is being recalled due to Listeria.

Be careful what you buy and stay up-to-date on all the recalls. FDA has a good list of food recalls.

Posted on June 12th, 2012
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10 Responses to “Safe Vegetables and Fruits – Saving Money by not buying Everything Organic”

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