I would love to buy organic food more often, but on a student budget, and shopping at UK prices that is rarely possible.
Yesterday I heard an English farmer, a sustainable agriculture researcher, AND the Head of the UK Soil Association state that organic crops have been proven to have a higher antioxidant activity than traditionally-farmed crops. After hearing this I searched online for the source of this factoid. And several academic analyses supported this claim.
Baránski et al.’s 2014 meta-analysis showed that concentrations of a range of antioxidants such as polyphenolics were found to be substantially higher in organic crops/crop-based foods. Antioxidants like polyphenolics are linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers. The same meta-analysis revealed that the frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues was found to be four times higher in conventional crops, with conventional crops also containing significantly higher concentrations of toxic metals.
But, how can students and those on lower budgets afford organic food? One way is to know which crops are typically subjected to the most pesticides, so you can opt for the organic versions, if available and affordable, the “Dirty Dozen" below. Or if you are on a budget you could grab a healthy snack from the "Clean Fifteen” which typically are farmed with less pesticides.
The Dirty Dozen (in order of contamination): Apples Celery Sweet bell peppers Peaches Strawberries Nectarines Grapes Spinach Lettuce Cucumbers Blueberries Potatoes
The Clean 15 (in order of least contamination): Onions Sweetcorn Pineapples Avocado Cabbage Sweetpeas Asparagus Mangoes Eggplant Kiwi Cantaloupe Sweet potatoes Grapefruit Watermelon Mushrooms
if you’re a budget-conscious shopper (but aren’t looking for a good deal on some value-added pesticides), that extra dollar per pound for apples is well spent. The same goes for peaches, nectarines, strawberries. and grapes, which round out the top five. Avocados, which top the less toxic list, are nearly pesticide-free even when conventionally grown; just 1 percent of the fruit sampled showed remnants of farming chemicals. “Eat your fruits and vegetables,” Sonya Lunder, EWG’s senior analyst, said in a statement. “But know which ones have the highest amounts of pesticides so you can opt for the organic versions, if available and affordable, or grab a snack off the Clean Fifteen.”