Most people are familiar with the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. It lists the 12+ (named the Dirty Dozen PLUS) foods that are contaminated with pesticides the most (the full list displays 51) and that are recommended to be bought in organic form. It also lists the 15 foods (named the Clean Fifteen) that are considered the cleanest and don’t necessarily need to be bought in organic form.
This list is a fantastic guide to shopping, but you have to remember it is a list of contaminated and clean produce – fruits and vegetables – only.
So, what about non-produce foods that are possibly contaminated with pesticides or other substances (like GMOs)? Well, here are at least 8 that you may want to consider buying organic. A couple might sound familiar to you as I have touched on them in earlier posts, however, here is the full list in one place for your reference.
1. Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are known as the oldest food. They are the main ingredient in tahini and hummus. They also contain a host of nutrients including copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fiber. Their most valuable asset is sesame oil because it has a long shelf life. Due to the chemicals that are usually used to process sesame seeds, organic sesame seeds are recommended.
2. Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup is flavorless and can easily be substituted in recipes that have corn syrup. I have used it in place of honey if I didn’t have any for my homemade granola bars and it works just fine as it is a very similar consistency. It contains thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin K and makes a good choice for people with diabetes. Due to the concern of arsenic, organic is highly recommended.
Butter can be a healthy part of the diet. It actually contains many nutrients that help with an array of conditions from heart disease to arthritis. It contains vitamins A, D, K2, and E, lecithin, iodine and selenium. Butter is made from the fat from cow’s milk and milk from other mammals like goats and sheep. Because the fat in mammals tend to store many toxins it’s best to buy it in organic and/or grass-fed form.
Coffee has a reputation for not being so healthy since it can stimulate the nervous system, put stress on the adrenal glands, elevate the blood pressure, and decrease the absorption of minerals. However, on the other hand coffee can be a great source of antioxidants. Matter of fact, the National Cancer Institute finds that people who drank more than four cups of caffeinated coffee per day were at about half the risk of death of oral/pharyngeal cancer compared to those who only occasionally or who never drank coffee. Unfortunately, coffee is a crop associated with heavy pesticide use, so even though it is best to consume in moderation, if you’re going to drink it try to go organic.
For those that don’t suffer from an allergy to peanuts, they can offer more antioxidants than some fruits. This makes them an ideal food to protect the cardiovascular system. Peanuts is another crop where pesticide use is high. Studies show that the chemicals used are highly stable in the environment and can linger for decades. Because of this reason, peanuts are recommended in organic form.
Raisins offer a host of nutrients including protein, calcium, iron, fiber, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, potassium, and vitamin C. Since raisins are dried grapes and grapes are heavily sprayed with pesticides (they are number three of EWG’s Dirty Dozen), organic raisins are the best choice.
Remember, all sugar needs to be eaten in moderation, but when you do consume it consider organic. In March of 2005, genetically modified sugar beets appeared on the US market for the first time headed by Monsanto. Today, Monsanto’s genetically modified sugar beets make up 95 percent of the US crop.
If it’s not labeled organic or verified non-GMO then it very well may be made from genetically modified sugar beets. If a non-organic product made in North American lists “sugar” as an ingredient (and NOT pure cane sugar), then it is almost certainly a combination of sugar from both sugar cane and GM sugar beets.
8. Blackstrap Molasses
Blackstrap molasses is the final grade of molasses produced during the sugar-refining process. It has a very bitter taste and is very rich in many nutrients including iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, folate, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Where white sugar lacks in vitamins and minerals, blackstrap molasses more than makes up for it. Because it is in the most concentrated form, it also means it will contain the greatest concentration of contaminants so organic is highly recommended. Also, due to the common use of sulfur dioxide to either lighten the color or prolong the shelf life of the molasses, unsulphured is also recommended.
What other foods can you think of to buy organic and why?
Resources for You