All produce grown in and imported to Canada and the USA must comply with safety regulations. For those living in other countries, contact your national health agency if you’re concerned about the safety of your produce.
Studies show that people believe organic foods are:
- more nutritious
- free of pesticides
The truth is that organic foods:
- contain similar nutritional values. Some small studies have shown that organic produce is slightly higher in Vitamin C and phytonutrients, and lower in protein and nitrates.
- equally as safe as conventionally grown produce. However, this study showed that organic produce had higher levels of pathogenic (illness causing) bacteria. Babies are at higher risk of getting food poisoning from food with illness causing bacteria.
- lower in pesticide residues. Natural pesticides are permitted for use in organic farming. For example, rotenone, produced by the roots of some plants, can be used to kill insects. List of permitted substanced in organic farming in Canada and in the USA:
To control pests with organic methods sometimes requires a lot more naturally produced pesticides (which can be toxic) than if a synthetic version was used.
If you really want to know more about how your food is produced, talk to the farmers!
- Shop at farmers’ markets
- Sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. At the beginning of the season, you pay to receive a basket of fresh produce each week for the duration of the growing season.
Some people choose to buy organic produce strategically. There are certain fruits and veggies that will contain higher pesticide residues than others. Each year the Environmental Working Group puts out a list of the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen”. As it sounds, the dirty dozen are the top culprits of pesticide residues while the clean fifteen contain the smallest amount.
Although it’s impossible to remove them 100%, here are some other tips to reduce pesticide residues:
- Scrub fruits and veggies under running water. Flowing water helps to remove more residue than soaking in a sink full of water. The physical action of scrubbing is the most effective part.
- Don’t use dishsoap or bleach. Fruits and veggies have pores that can soak these substances up. Instead of reducing residues, you could be adding more!
- Don’t rely on prepared fruit and veggie washes or vinegar. They have not been shown to be any more effective than plain old H2O.
- Throw out (or compost) the outer layers of leafy veggies like cabbage or lettuce