Jun. 1st, 2010

Organic

Jun. 1st, 2010 11:04 pm
petermarcus: (Default)
I'm not going to relate the whole organic vs. store-bought debate in this particular post. I will hit it tangentially, though.

The tangents to the debate fit into a triangle: cost vs. health vs. just-what-the-hell-does-organic-mean-outside-the-hype.

For the last, organic generally means no pesticides or hormones and that kind of stuff, though the label is sometimes more political than anything else. It may not be completely pesticide free depending on what your state defines as a pesticide (chrysanthemum oil? Even synthesized?) But, you can generally accept that there won't be any DDT in anything labeled organic.

Enter CNN, reporting on a nonprofit who has combed through public USDA and FDA reports about the number of pesticides in common supermarket foods. At first glance, there doesn't seem to be a distinction of pesticide toxicities -- personally, I'll accept a synthesized chrysanthemum oil over, say, malathion, which is looking like a hard-science backed culprit in some forms of ADHD. On the other hand, when the USDA and FDA says that common store-bought celery may have 47 to 67 forms of pesticide per serving, then yeah, the distinction of types of pesticide may not really matter all that much.

The "Dirty Dozen" -- the most pesticide-ridden supermarket foods:
Celery
Peaches
Strawberries
Apples
Domestic blueberries
Nectarines
Sweet bell peppers
Spinach, kale and collard greens
Cherries
Potatoes
Imported grapes
Lettuce

Each of these tends to keep pesticides around, even in the sterile-wannabe environment of the supermarket produce corner.

The cleanest foods, with little-to-no pesticides?
Onions
Avocados
Sweet corn
Pineapples
Mango
Sweet peas
Asparagus
Kiwi fruit
Cabbage
Eggplant
Cantaloupe
Watermelon
Grapefruit
Sweet potatoes
Sweet onions

Well, if little-to-no includes malathion, then I'd avoid it anyway, and I'd like to see what that means. On the other hand, when browsing the produce aisle, there's always a question of whether or not to pay the extra hit for organic.

This is a great start, in my opinion, similar to the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Program identifying sustainable fish. If I'm making a mirepoix, I will now happily pay the extra 50 cents for organic celery, yet buy the local Southeast sweet onions. My budget has been given firm direction by this list. Hopefully, some non-profit will continue this trend and match Monterey (my birth-town) in giving consumers an educated guide to shopping.

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