A grocery budget is like any other budget. You have to know where to spend and where to save to maximize your dollar, except in this case you also want to optimize your health and fitness. In Why Buy Organic I talked about what you are getting and more importantly what you are not getting when you pay the extra money for organic food.
There isn’t much of a debate left on if organic food is better for you, but you still may be debating whether or not you can afford it. Since you know I’m a ranking geek I created another hierarchy of the 12 most important foods to buy organic. I call it my Dirty Dozen.
Hierarchy of Organic Foods
1. Baby food
Babies are most susceptible to the hormone disrupting affects of pesticides. There systems haven’t had the necessary time to develop defenses against xenoestrogens and the other nasties associated with conventional food.
2. Full fat dairy
Raw, organic dairy is always my preference for a multitude of reasons that I talked about in Myth #2: the Milk Myth. Think about it this way…You wouldn’t take steroids, anti-biotics and drink pesticides if you were breast-feeding would you? Then why would you put yourself on the other end of it?
When you eat an animal you are also eating everything that animal has ever eaten which means everything, both bad and good, is compounded. This compounding affect is called bioconcentration. The majority of pesticides and herbicides are fat-soluble meaning they accumulate in fat. Since animals have far more fat than plants you are avoiding more potential poisoning when you eat organic meat.
Bioconcentration works for the positive when you eat organic meat as well. Plants bioconcentrate nutrients from the soil, meaning a pound of grass, for example, has more nutrients than a pound of dirt in which it grows. Animals take this a step further. Their tissues bioconcentrate the nutrients the grass takes from the soil and the nutrients the grasses manufacture.
It’s also important to note that organic, grass-fed beef is high in CLA, an anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acid that tells our body to burn fat at a faster rate. Conventionally raised meat is high in omega 6, an inflammatory fatty acid that has been shown to cause cancer growth when ratios are high in relation to omega 3.
For all the same reasons above and more. It’s been discovered that the fat soluble pesticides in chicken feed transfer really efficiently into chicken tissues we end up eating. Chickens are fed GMO corn and soy that has been sprayed to hell and back with Round-up, not to mention that arsenic has been found in conventionally raised chicken tissues.
Read above. Fat-soluble pesticides transfer well into the egg yolks.
6. Leafy Greens
This one comes down to surface area. Leafy greens are 97% surface area that gets sprayed hard with conventional chemicals. A good washing isn’t enough to remove all the harmful toxins the vegetables soak up. Luckily, organic greens aren’t much more expensive than conventional.
Berries are subjected to some of the heaviest pesticide loads. If you also consider that berries have the highest concentration of secondary metabolites (e.g. antioxidants, polyphenols, and phytonutrients) that have been shown to be higher in organic berries that have had to fend for themselves you are getting a product that has far more good stuff and far less bad stuff.
8. Anything you eat regularly or large volume that aren’t on my clean list coming up tomorrow.
Conventionally grown apples come back time and time again as the produce that absorbs the highest level of pesticides that get transferred to us when we eat them.
When they are in season organic cucumbers aren’t that much more expensive than conventional ones. Going in-season is always your best bet when you are on a budget.
Grapes thin skin pesticides that are sprayed on them to be soaked up at high levels.
Similar to grapes with the thin skin. Tomatoes are also very heavily sprayed in some regions.
Three for the road:
Sometimes at the store it can be difficult to be sure exactly what you are getting in the produce section. Check out my article What Can PLU Codes Tell You to find out what those stickers on your produce mean.