Magazine article Vegetarian Times

The 10 Most Wanted

Magazine article Vegetarian Times

The 10 Most Wanted

Article excerpt

With some fruits and veggies, buying "organic" should be a must

In a perfect world, we'd all eat organic fruits and vegetables all the time. In reality, however, buying organic can sometimes present a challenge. Certain produce may not be available, it might not be ripe, or it could just be too expensive. But the grim truth is, that when consumed over time, the I billion pounds of pesticides and herbicides used on conventionally grown crops can have serious consequences in humans.

Years of studies show that chemicals linger on food even after a thorough cleaning and can affect our immune and endocrine systems and may even cause cancer and birth defects. In what appeared to be a step in the right direction, Congress passed the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act, which requires the EPA to ban or severely restrict many high-risk pesticides. But the law has encountered such fierce resistance by agricultural groups that getting these toxins out of our food supply is proving to be an extremely slow process. Furthermore, many experts believe the problem isn't how much of any one chemical we ingest from a particular vegetable. "You must look at multiple exposure to pesticides," explains Jay Feldman, executive director of the Washington D.C.-based National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NCAMP). Feldman further points out that the weaker standards of other countries often permit unacceptable levels of certain pesticides or the use of chemicals that have been banned in this country.

Given such health risks, it makes sense to buy organic. But on those occasions when that's not feasible, buy produce with a thick, peelable skin. (You can't avoid pesticides that are absorbed through a plant's roots, but the sprayed-on ones are less likely to be absorbed by thick-skinned produce.)

The following is an alphabetical list of the top 10 fruits and vegetables that research shows are most imperative to buy organic because they contain the highest legal levels of the most toxic pesticides. …

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