Organic Shopping

If you’ve read the “Clean Eating” section of this site then you’ll know that I try to buy organic produce whenever I can.  You might have also read my “About CleanFoodQueen” section and have noted that I am a student, so you might be wondering how I can afford to eat organic produce….

Surely the biggest food shopping decision a student makes is whether to purchase 11p no frills baked beans, or the slightly more colourfully labelled ones for 50p?  So in that case my food snobbery must be funded by Dr Leighton, who is paying for me to party, eat organic, and write a blog for fun right?…. All of this couldn’t be further from the truth.

30024570_sYears ago, I was of the opinion that food labelled ‘organic’ was a way for supermarkets to make more money from snobby mothers who wanted to send their children to school with organic apple slices in their lunch box, and display organic bottles at their dinner parties.  All I cared about was being ‘skinny’, so I didn’t care what was being sprayed onto my fruit and vegetables unless it contained calories!

Recently though, my clean food and health journey has taken me into the realms of organic shopping.  I will admit that I probably spend more on food than the average student.  But, this is because I prioritise food in my budget.  I certainly don’t have a father named Doctor Leighton who instantly logs in to make a bank transfer every time he sees my caller ID appear on his phone!

So what are pesticides and why do they matter?

Pesticides are chemicals which are designed to kill pests, in order to protect crops.  The 2011 ‘Pesticides in Food’ annual report showed that as much as 46% of the food we consume in the UK contains pesticide residues (PriF, 2011).  This figure has risen from 25% in 2003.  There have been reports of associations between some pesticides and hormone related cancers, developmental defects and other disorders.

How can we avoid them?

When searching for information about pesticides and food, I came across the Environmental Working Group (EWG), who publish shoppers guides to pesticide levels in food.  However, these are based on levels in the USA not the UK.  So I had to dig a bit deeper to find UK data, but eventually I came across the Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN).  The PAN reported the following foods to be the worst for pesticide residues in the UK between 2007-2012;

‘Dirty Dozen’

1. Apples
2. Grapefruit
3. Soft Citrus
4. Lemons
5. Flour
6. Cherries
7. Pineapple
8. Pears
9. Nectarines
10. Bananas
11. Oranges
12. Strawberries

Other foods to be considered as they were featured in the 2011 UK dirty dozen list include;

• Grapes
• Raspberries
• Carrots
• Peppers

It’s worth baring the ‘Dirty Dozen’ in mind when shopping, even if you only occasionally purchase organic produce when it’s on offer. Any steps that we can take to reduce our exposure to pesticides can only be beneficial. Personally I find that certain foods taste better when they are produced organically, so I buy those foods out of taste preference.

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