Recently, pesticides have been in the news more often than usual. That is because there have been new studies coming out proving pesticides cause symptoms of ADHD, increased risk for cancer, autism, and birth defects.

We don’t usually think about this when picking out apples at the grocery store or eating blueberries at a cookout. We tend to trust that no one would put dangerous chemicals into our food. These recent studies, done by the University of Montreal, the National Academy of Sciences, and numerous physicians around the world, have come to many of the same conclusions. Pesticides are harmful to humans and cannot be as easily washed of as we believe. They can cause learning disabilities in our children and cancers in adults. They can cause birth defects when eaten too often during pregnancy.

There are many things you can do to lessen your exposure to chemical pesticides. One it to use an organic, plant based pesticide on any garden or lawn you keep. Peeling your skinned fruit and veggies is another way to avoid harmful chemicals. Because most of the nutrients and anti-oxidants from these foods are found in the skin, buying organic would be optimal. Organic fruits and vegetables can be found in grocery stores and are always labeled “USDA Organic”. You can also often find organic produce at nearby farms. This would also help small businesses in your area thrive.

Some fruits and vegetables cannot simply be washed of the pesticides. The USDA did studies on which produce has the highest amount of pesticides. Here is a list of foods to always buy organic in order to reduce your exposure:

  1. Root vegetables. Things like potatoes, beets, carrots, turnips. Because they are roots, they absorb all of the pesticides sprayed on the plant making it impossible to completley get rid of the pesticides. Peeling won’t do it.
  2. Skinned fruit. Nectarines, peaches, apples, cherries, pears, etc. More than 90% of these fruits were found to contain harmful pesticides. Peeling these fruits may help lessen the amount you ingest but could still be affecting your health.
  3. Celery. About 95% of celery was reported to contain pesticides. Washing may help reduce your exposure but may not eliminate.
  4. Berries. About 90% of berries have pesticides. The problem with non-organic berries is that you cannot easily wash them off and you cannot very well peel them. Avoiding the chemicals in berries is more difficult.
  5. Spinach. Over 80% of spinach contains harmful chemical pesticides and cannot be easily washed off.
  6. Bell Peppers. The majority, around 80% of bell peppers have pesticides. Washing may help reduce exposure in this case but again, may not eliminate it.

Buying organic produce can be difficult for many reasons. Some being they are not even available or they are too expensive. Keep in mind that consumers have the control. Vote with your pocket book. Organic produce is continuing to decline in price because it’s increasing in popularity. The more we buy organic, the more will be available at a cheaper price.

There are many farms who need people to buy shares of the farm. These farms are called co-op farms or Community Supported Agriculture farms. The way they work is by charging an upfront fee of around $400 dollars. This is a once a year cost. Then you pick up organic produce weekly. You can get anywhere from 2-6 bags of produce a week. Most CSA’s run from May to November.

Get creative and don’t give up. A goal of an organic diet can take a year to achieve. But it will be worth it and you will notice a great difference. Not to mention you will feel great about doing your part on this planet by helping reduce the amount of chemicals sprayed onto the soil.