Sofie Wise

Maria Shikary

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About Author — Dr. Shikary is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Medicine, and trained in pediatrics at UCSF in San Francisco. She specializes in holistic/integrative medicine and nutrition.

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The Dirty Dozen

Organic or non organic? Although the verdict may still be out on the nutritional differences between organic and conventional produce, there are other major reasons why you should consider eating organic. Three major reasons for buying organic are:

  • Pesticides: Conventional produce often have pesticide residues. The run off from these pesticides ends up in streams and lakes and have been found in cord blood and urine samples. As a pediatrician, this poses a special risk to my little patients who tend to have higher absorption rates of substances due to a higher body surface to volume ratio and higher rates of exposures.
  • Food additives: Conventional produce can have preservatives and waxes added to them for appearance or shelf life. Organic produce bans these substances.
  • Environment: Organic is usually produced in environmentally sustainable ways.

However eating organic can be expensive. I don’t think that you have to eat everything organic, but consider the dirty dozen when making your choices in the grocery store between organic and conventional. The dirty dozen is a list of twelve fruits and vegetables that the Environmental Working Group releases every year. These twelve items are those that have been tested and contain high levels of harmful pesticide residues. The 2014 list included apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. These 12 foods are the ones that I think are critical to eat organic.

The EWG also has a list of clean 15 which are foods that are safe to eat even if conventionally grown. It will help you to become a more savvy shopper and make the right choices for you and your family without putting your budget at risk.

For more information, visit the EWG’s website at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php