The 15 Foods You Must Buy Organic


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Many of us look forward to the change in seasons as a new crop of fruits and vegetables becomes available. Unfortunately, some of these nutritious foods are loaded with health-harming pesticides. Here is a guide for avoiding produce that contains high amounts of dangerous chemicals.

Food contamination can fall into two categories. One class of crops is sprayed with pesticides, while the other is genetically modified and grown with the weed-killing poison glyphosate. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) tests foods for their pesticide residues and puts out a Dirty Dozen List of the ones with the highest quantities. Other environmental agencies make a list of foods that are grown mostly in genetically modified conditions. Both categories pose a threat to health.

Beyond the “Dirty Dozen”: The 15 Fruits and Vegetables With Highest Pesticide Residue

See the graphic below for a quick view of all 15. Here are some additional details you should know.

  • Strawberries: After the EWG analyzed the pesticide residues on 48 fruits and vegetables, they rated strawberries as the worst offender, kicking apples into second place on the 2016 “Dirty Dozen” list. California 2014 data shows each acre of the crop was doused with 300 pounds of pesticides in the state during that year. The fruit is contaminated with dozens of chemicals, including the probable carcinogen malathion, possible carcinogen bifenthrin and the hormone disruptor carbendazim.
  • Dirty Dozen: EWG’s list it chalk full of autumn produce including apples, pineapples, grapes and sweet potatoes. The top 15 from their list of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residue are below.
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Worst GMO Summer Foods

  • Corn: One the EWG’s list, corn ranks as #2 for the least residue, however, since nearly 90% of the corn on the market is genetically modified, we took it off of our list of products you may be on the “safe list.” One of the most prominent GMO foods, Monsanto corn has been associated with many health issues, including organ disruption and weight gain.
  • Sugar Beets: Almost all of the sugar beets grown in the U.S. are genetically modified. The practice not only affects eating the vegetable itself but also the sugar made from it. If a non-organic bag of sugar isn’t labeled “Pure Care Sugar,” it is likely a mixture of GM sugar beets and cane sugar.
  • Papayas: Another fruit featured on the EWG’s “clean 15” list, papaya can be questionable. The New York Times reports that 80 percent of the 2010 U.S. papaya crop grown in Hawaii was genetically modified. While the fruit has been banned in the European Union, it’s available in our country and Canada.
    • Zucchinis and Yellow Squash: Six varieties of these vegetables have been engineered to resist viruses. Like other GMOs, they contain the Bt toxin that presents multiple risks to health.

Shopping Guide to Organic Produce

All of the above foods are powerhouses of phytonutrients that are beneficial for health, so they should be included in the diet. Eating conventionally grown produce is better than not eating it at all. However, whenever it is possible, it is best to purchase organic. Aside from the designated section of supermarkets, you can find these foods through online merchants, a co-op or a share in a community-sponsored agricultural program. Some vendors in farmers’ markets also carry produce that is certified organic.

You can identify the cleanest foods in supermarkets though checking the labels. Organically grown produce has a five-digit code that begins with the number 9, and conventionally grown produce has a four-digit code that begins with the number 4. GMOs have a five-digit code that begins with the number 8. For the best quality, look for “100% Organic” labels.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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