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May Fuel

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Did you know that if you consumed an average apple you would be eating over 30 pesticides, even after you have washed it? Gross, right? No wonder organic farming is one of the fastest-growing segments of agriculture in America, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.The rise in popularity is because people are becoming more aware of the impact that their food choices have not only on their own personal health but also on the environment in which they live. Organic crops are generally grown without synthetic pesticides, artificial fertilizers, irradiation, or biotechnology. For a long time, organic food could usually only be found at natural food stores and farmer's markets. Yet, in the last decade more and more supermarkets have chosen to step up their “organic game”, reflecting public demand, and making it more commonplace. According to the Organic Trade Association, 75% of US families purchase organic products. 41% of parents report they are buying more organic food than a year ago, up significantly from the 31% who said they bought more organic in 2009. Our relationships with food are always changing, and one thing is for sure, organic food choices are becoming more popular every day.

Advocates say organic food is safer, possibly more nutritious, and often better tasting than non-organic food. They also say organic production is better for the environment and kinder to animals. So, if organic products are better for you and for the environment then why isn’t everyone buying them? One common concern with organic food is cost.
Organic foods typically cost about 50% more than do their conventional counterparts. Higher prices are due, in part, to more expensive farming practices, tighter government regulations and lower crop yields. For consumers on tight budgets buying organic may not be possible even if they want to. 

If you can't always afford organic, DO spend the extra money when it comes to what the Environmental Working Group calls the "dirty dozen":
From Worst to Best
  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell Peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Cherries
  10. Kale/Collard Greens
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes

And on the other hand, the following are the “Clean 15” and they are the lowest in pesticides, so no need to go organic with these:

From Best to Worst:
  1. Onions
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet Corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Watermelon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Sweet Potato
  15. Honeydew Melon

This list is hard to memorize, so here is a handy dandy shopping guide to take with you on your next trip to the market Organic Shopping List

If you like the idea of organic foods but can’t manage the higher prices, here are some ways to protect yourself from the non-organic pesticides:
  • Buy fresh vegetables and fruits in season. When long storage and long-distance shipping are not required, fewer pesticides are used.
  • Trim tops and the very outer portions of celery, lettuce, cabbages, and other leafy vegetables that may contain the bulk of pesticide residues.
  • Peel and cook when appropriate, even though some nutrients and fiber are lost in the process.
  • Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. This would limit exposure to any one type of pesticide
  • Wait until just before preparation to wash or immerse your produce in clean water. When appropriate, scrub with a brush.

All in all, the decision to buy organic or not to buy organic is up to you.  Some people will buy nothing but organic, while others say there isn’t enough evidence to prove a real advantage to eating organic foods.
The one good thing about buying organic is that you know exactly what you are getting. For a food to display the Organic label, it must adhere to specific standards regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 
For some, the peace of mind of fueling the body with natural food that's better for them and for the environment is a no brainer and is worth every penny.....but it’s not for everybody! The best thing anyone can do is eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, whether they are organic or conventional.

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