The simple fact is that eating organic is not only healthier for you; it’s healthier for the planet.  Aside from contributing to a number of childhood diseases and ADD, artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides seep into ground water.   These chemicals eventually pollute and destroy wetlands and rivers.  Even our off shore coral reefs are dying in part as a result of nitrogen and pesticides. 

Organic soil has beneficial microbes that feed us ample supplies of essential nutrients that are not available in any synthetic fertilizer compound.  These miniscule, helpful bacteria; algae; protozoa; & funguses break down and transform organic compost chemicals into forms that are readily assimilated by plant roots.  We are then able to obtain more vitamins and minerals from this pre-digested food than with the agribusiness synthetic method.  “Conventional” mass-marketed vegetables and fruits are cheaper, but lack optimal nutrition. 

Organic vs. Local – What’s more sustainable and yet still healthy for you?

 I’ve found that produce found at your local Farmer’s Market usually does not come from an industrial agriculture farm, but a smaller, family run farm and it may have been fertilized with a little love too. While sometimes not 100% organic, this could be a better choice, especially if washed thoroughly (see soaking formula below).

 Organic fruits and vegetables actually taste better, as we’d expect Mother Nature to have it.  Those enormous pink strawberries in their plastic box, shipped from miles away, are flavorless when compared to the sweetness of a freshly red-ripe plucked one.  Speaking of strawberries, they are in season now, and at the top of the “do not eat unless organic” list.


The “only eat when organic ” list

according to the, is as follows, diminishing in toxicity towards the bottom. These are the “Dirty Dozen”:

  1. Strawberries                                 7. Celery
  2. Bell Peppers                                 8. Apples
  3. Spinach                                          9. Apricots
  4. Cherries (USA)                            10. Green Beans
  5. Peaches                                         11. Grapes (Chile)
  6. Cantaloupe (Mexico)               12. Cucumbers


Other sources also included:

Plums, nectarines, raspberries, blueberries, domestic grapes, and pears.


Update: Summer 2011 there is a tomato blight virus.  Check with your local farmers if they are dealing with it organically or are using trraditional methods! Tomatos may be back on the dirty dozen list!


The lowest amount of pesticides are found in:

 Onions                                    Avocado

Cabbage                                  Broccoli

Papaya                                    Cauliflower

Winter squash                     Watermelon

Sweet potatoes                    Tomatoes

Sweet corn (frozen                  Pineapples

Sweet peas (frozen)                Mango

Asparagus                                  Kiwi

Bananas                                      Arugula

Watercress                              Your windowsill Herb Garden

There are times however, when organic choices are simply not available.   Here are two home concoctions to wash your non-organic fruits and veggies.

Produce Wash (option 1)

– 20 drops grapefruit seed extract, available at health food stores

– 1 Tablespoon baking soda

– 1 cup white vinegar

– 1 cup water

– New spray bottle

Produce Wash (option 2)

– 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

– 1 Tablespoon white vinegar

– 1 cup water

– New spray bottle

Spray produce. Let sit 5-10 minutes and rinse thoroughly to wash away residue.

NOTE: The baking soda and vinegar will foam when mixed together. Make sure you use a deep pitcher and pour slowly.

Life is short and sweet, so enjoy those organic strawberry or blueberry in-season whole-wheat shortcakes while they last.

Coming soon at a local farmer near you!

See excerpts & recipes from:

Eco-chef Debra Secunda at