Shoppers Guide to Produce

Shoppers Guide to Produce

Expect nothing less of freshness and good quality when it comes to purchasing organic foods. Kirk Market is your connection to the fields of organic and local goodness! ‘Organic’ is definitely the food buzzword of the last 20 years, and organic fruit and vegetables seem to taste better; but what exactly makes food ‘organic’ and is it better for you and your family? While there are many benefits to buying organic, one very simple reason is to limit your exposure to harmful pesticides that ultimately burden the body and impact the environment. Certified organic foods do not contain toxins like pesticides, antibiotics, chemical additives, or hormones. They are as clean and wholesome as Mother Nature made them.

Most farming worldwide rely heavily on artificial chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Around 350 pesticides are permitted in the US and Europe, more elsewhere, and it’s estimated that over 4 Billion litres of them are used annually. Whilst there are Government rules about acceptable levels of chemical residues in our food, there can be concerns about their long-term effect.

The Environmental Working Group estimates that we expose ourselves to an average of 10 pesticides a day when we eat the Dirty Dozen™ – that is, 12 of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables! (Environmental Working Group, 2019)  There are many different pesticides linked to chronic conditions including cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive and nervous system damage. With these risks from chemical exposure, it makes perfect sense to buy and choose organic.

The Ten Organic Best

Some foods and crops may be more heavily treated with pesticides and other toxins than others. Here are ten important foods to buy organic:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Stone-fruit – peaches, nectarines, cherries, plums
  3. Grapes
  4. Sweet bell peppers
  5. Leafy greens – spinach, lettuces, kale, collards
  6. Tomatoes
  7. Milk (and all dairy products – yogurt, cheese, butter)
  8. Meat and poultry
  9. Seafood
  10. Eggs

Organic farming strictly limits the use of artificial chemical fertilizers or pesticides and antibiotics for animals are kept to an absolute minimum. In the US and the UK the standards for organic food are legally defined and monitored.  Organic farming emphasises methods such as crop rotation to keep the soil healthy and encourage natural pest-control systems. Genetically modified crops are forbidden. Organic bodies also demand more space for animals and higher welfare standards.

Buying food that is certified as organic or biodynamically produced, whatever the logo, can give consumers the reassurance that higher welfare and environmental standards are being pursued.  The reduction in the use of chemicals on organic farms and the emphasis on natural pest control and soil management is markedly better for the environment and protects the surrounding water supply and the people, fish and animals that depend on it.

The Dirty Dozen

Twelve of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

The Clean Fifteen

The fruits and vegetables least likely to test positive for pesticide residues:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Sweet Frozen Peas
  5. Onions
  6. Papayas
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwis
  10. Cabbages
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Cantaloupes
  13. Broccoli
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew Melons

Will Washing and Peeling Help?

The data used to create these lists is based on produce tested as it is typically eaten (meaning washed, rinsed or peeled, depending on the type of produce). Rinsing reduces but does not eliminate pesticides. Peeling helps, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the skin. The best approach: eat a varied
diet, rinse all produce and buy organic when possible.

Natural vs. Organic: What’s the Difference?

Where is the organic in “all natural?” While the terms “natural” and “organic” are often used interchangeably their meanings are very different when it comes to the description of certain food products.

The production of truly organic foods helps to honour the balance of nature through “old fashioned” farming methods. Conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics and growth hormones are never used on organic farms.
Instead, they use renewable resources and focus on soil and water conservation to help preserve the environment
for future generations.

Organic farming in the U.S. is also regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) according to strict quality standards for growing and handling.

The word “natural” on a food package may mean next to nothing because–unlike “organic”–“natural” has
no meaning in law or regulation. For these reasons, the use of “natural” on food products all too often
distracts attention from more important considerations.

Despite what the food manufacturer has listed on the label, a food labelled “all natural” can still contain:

  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Toxic heavy metals
  • Trace amounts of PCBs
  • Toxic fluoride
  • Hidden MSG
  • High-temperature cooking by-products
  • Synthetic chemical vitamins
  • Other non-natural substances

A Greener Cayman
Kirk Market is always seeking to decrease our impact on our environment and to increase our use of reusable and recyclable materials.

Source: Environmental Working Group

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