I ask myself this question all the time. There are some basic rules of thumb that I follow when it comes to fruits and vegetables. But it’s easy to feel insane, as I often do, when we don’t have so much control over our food. Eating at restaurants and friends houses can be a challenge for people, like me, who are always reading labels and ingredients lists, wondering if this is organic or GMO-free (I know, if it gets any worse I probably should see a shrink). I’ve done a little research to set some boundaries I can feel at ease with. Certain foods are a no-no if they aren’t organic, some are a “try your best to get organic” while for others it doesn’t matter all that much.
#1: Know the Dirty Dozen. If buying organic is hard, then just go for the holy grail. These guys typically contain the highest levels of pesticide residue: apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches/nectarines, spinach (including frozen and canned), peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, snap peas, potatoes and blueberries. So if you are going to buy only a few things organic, make it these ones.
#2: Clean 15. You can feel at ease knowing the clean 15, produce you don’t have to buy organic: avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, sweet peas (frozen), onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwi, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe (domestic), cauliflower, and sweet potatoes.
#3: Pick what you eat the most of and buy just those ones organic. These are the foods that are frequent fliers on your shopping list, and are consumed in your house on a weekly basis. So if you eat a lot of spinach, cucumbers, celery and apples, like I do, then always buy those organic, no exceptions. But if you hardly eat potatoes or snap peas, then once in a blue moon it’s ok to skip the organic if you have to.
#4: When dining at a restaurant try to let go of the anxiety of not knowing if your food is organic. It probably isn’t, unless they specially state it on the menu. This situation always gives me problems. There are essentially 3 choices here: 1) Don’t ever go out. Yea Right! 2) Go out but worry the whole time over what you cannot control. 3) Go out, chose healthy options when available, and allow yourself a day off from worrying. It’s not easy, I often find myself hovering around option number 2, but I’m trying to go with the third option more. Part of what I am trying to do about easing my (and your) anxiety, is being ok with moderation. I’m writing this post as much for me as for you. It’s easy to get obsessed with reading alarmist articles and websites that scare the pants off of you. If I know one thing
it’s that worrying is like junk food in your body. Anxiety messes with us physically and can cause as much damage as a big mack with fries. If I eat a non-organic apple one day and worry about it, then I’m causing more harm to my body then If I just ate the apple and didn’t give a crap. Happy shopping!