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You’d be hard-pressed to go long today without seeing the words “organic,” “natural,” or “non-toxic.” These, and others, have become hot words that people use. Some grocery stores specifically sell organic food, “non-toxic” toys, “natural” household goods, and more.  

What Does “Organic” Really Mean?   

If something is “organic,” it hits particular standards laid out by the USDA. These include being unable to use the following in growing their produce or producing other products.   

  • Synthetic fertilizers  
  • Sewage sludge  
  • Irradiation  
  • Genetic engineering   

Organic farmers also must have mostly natural pesticides – which doesn’t mean they can’t use any, simply very specific ones. Have you ever wondered why you should wash all produce, not just non-organic produce? This is why. Because as long as the pesticide is on the USDA’s approved substances list, it can be used. [1] If you can find pesticide-free and organic produce, you should jump on it.  

Why You Want to Avoid Pesticides  

Most people understand pesticides are chemicals sprayed on plants to kill bugs. The piece people don’t necessarily always connect is that the chemicals in those pesticides can have a very real effect on the human system.  

Pesticides have been known to affect the following:  

These chemicals are meant to kill bugs. If the produce isn’t sprayed, is it that much better? Yes. In several ways.   

Why Organic and Unsprayed is Better  

When you take away endocrine disruptors that can help cause cancer, depression, and affect the brain and nervous system, you’re significantly reducing the toxic burden your body gets to deal with. Not only that, but organic and unsprayed foods also help support nutrition.  

  • They have more nutrients – did you know that organic produce has been shown to have up to 69% higher levels of antioxidants? [7 
  • They have significantly lower levels of the heavy metal cadmium [8 
  • They are better for the farmers – for the same reason that not eating foods with pesticides is better for you and eating organic foods is better for you, farming organic foods is better for the farmers. Conventional farmers get to spray the crops and be around these dangerous chemicals daily. Their clothes get covered in it, and they track it home. When farmers cultivate organic produce, they don’t feel the effects of these chemicals.  
  • Organic foods are better for our future – pesticides don’t just kill pests; they kill insects. This includes pollinators. Beyond that, organic foods are also better for the soil. [9 

When we take care of our farmers and future and our current health, we invest in long-term health, not just what we’re experiencing in the here and now.  

Think Beyond the Sticker  

Grocery stores may not be able to tell you which apples in their display were sprayed or have a wax coating, even if they can tell you which ones are organic. So, how else can you find organic, unsprayed fruits? Here are a few ideas.  

  • Grow your own – this is more of a long-term solution, as you will have to wait for the produce to grow and be ready for harvest, but this is the most sure-fire way to know what does and doesn’t go on the food you eat.  
  • Buy from a farmer friend – do you know someone who grows their produce organically and doesn’t spray pesticides on their crops? Or someone who grows organic produce and would be willing to keep a section of their fields or orchards unsprayed?  
  • Visit the farmer’s market or buy local – this is like the above option if you don’t have a farmer friend yet. Make one! Walk through a farmer’s market and strike up conversations with the vendors on their processes and standards. Or do a Google search for farmers around you that grow organic foods. You can also join “crunchy mama” Facebook groups and see where the other mamas get their produce.  
  • Start somewhere – completely converting to 100% clean, organic, and unsprayed can be challenging right out of the gate. If you can’t jump in fully, start with the dirty dozen and clean fifteen — lists of crops with the highest and lowest levels of pesticide residue. In 2022, the dirty dozen were strawberries, spinach, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, nectarines, apples, grapes, hot and bell peppers, cherries, peaches, pears, celery, and tomatoes.  

If you can’t find unsprayed produce, we recommend not rinsing them with water – that usually doesn’t get the spray off. Instead, try soaking them in apple cider vinegar, which has been shown to kill off dangerous, naturally occurring bacteria from produce. [10] It has also been shown to be effective in washing away pesticides and is suggested as a way to do so in several places. [11] [12] 

What Now?  

People can often argue that an organic apple has no nutritional difference from a conventionally grown apple. That’s not true – organic and unsprayed produce benefits your body and eases the toxic burden placed on it. Next time you’re in the grocery store, choose organic when possible – especially when dealing with the dirty dozen.  

Hungry for more? Sign up for our newsletter for more lifestyle tips and be sure to contact a Wellness Way clinic near you to learn more about easing your body’s toxic burden. 


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