I get asked this question a lot.
The short answer is that I believe we should always buy the best quality food we can afford. The best quality food will be whole foods reared or grown ethically in good soil with as little industrial or chemical intervention as possible. By definition, organic food will probably come closest to this ideal, although there are some amazing farmers and growers who adhere to these principles without getting Soil Association accreditation, so don’t automatically write of the guys at the farmers’ market whose produce is not “organic”.
Many of us are on a tight budget these days too, so don’t have the luxury of only eating organic food. So how do we prioritise?
With meat, “organic” could mean that the animals lived on a diet of organically-grown grains, which doesn’t produce he healthiest livestock and so doesn’t produce the healthiest meat. I would look for out for “grass-fed” meat and dairy and “organic free range” poultry. If you find this too expensive, I would just eat a bit less of it. “Organic” fish is farmed fish, so you would be better off opting for “line caught” instead.
But for me, eating plenty of vegetables and fruit is really important however they are grown. Saying that, some conventionally grown produce will retain more pesticides on them than others. We call the worst offenders the “dirty dozen” and these are the ones that we should buy organic if we can:
sweet bell peppers
However if you can’t buy organic ones, add a bit of organic apple cider vinegar to the water you wash them in and that can help get rid of some of the pesticide residue.
The “clean 15″ are fruits and vegetables less likely to have a huge build-up of pesticides, so buying organic ones of these is less important:
The most important ingredient with whatever you eat is pleasure – don’t underestimate the health benefits of taking time to enjoy truly yummy food!
This excellent article was prepared by Sara Jubb naturopath