Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 11:01 am | Partly Cloudy 63º

 
 
 
 

Drs. Dena and Jonathan Birch: To Eat Organic or Not to Eat Organic

Stone fruit season is officially upon us — those juicy peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and cherries have arrived at our local farmers markets and we could not be any happier. We are always encouraging our patients to include more fruits and vegetables in their diet, and in response we frequently receive the question, “Doctor, should I buy all my produce organic?”

Birch
Dr. Jonathan Birch

Dena Birch
Dr. Dena Birch

This is a valid question since recent USDA tests have found at least one pesticide on 64 percent of conventionally raised produce, and five or more pesticide residues on 12 percent. The answer can be found by referring to the Environmental Working Group shopping guide.

The EWG shopping guide was made to protect your family from the produce most commonly exposed to high amounts of pesticide. Every year they form a list of the most highly sprayed fruits and vegetables of which they encourage to buy organic, or to at least make sure your grower avoids pesticides.

The 2015 "dirty dozen plus" are apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas, potatoes, hot peppers, kale and collard greens. If you purchase any of these from conventional growers, make sure to rinse them with vinegar or another nontoxic produce cleaner. Some plants do absorb pesticides systemically so washing may have only limited effect.

Thankfully, the guide also provides information regarding the "cleanest," least pesticide-sprayed produce. These are usually either fruits or veggies with skins that we can remove, or simply plants that are not as prone to pests or infection.

The "clean 15 " list, which you least have to worry about purchasing organic, includes avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangos, papayas, kiwi, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.

Implementing more fruits and veggies in our families’ diets is so important for so many reasons, and avoiding pesticides should also be a priority. U.S. and international government agencies have acknowledged different pesticides as linked to health problems including brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone disruption as well as skin, eye and lung irritation. Prenatal and early childhood exposures to the neurotoxic organophosphates have been shown to be at greater risks of impaired intelligence and neurological problems.

Aside from maintaining our health, buying pesticide-free and organic produce supports environmental-friendly farming practices, minimizes soil erosion, safeguards workers, as well as protects our precious water quality and wildlife.

Do your best to support our farmers markets, organic and environmentally friendly markets, and get to know the EWG for more excellent and up-to-date environmental health information.

— Drs. Dena and Jonathan Birch are naturopathic doctors and co-operators of Purety Family Medical Clinic in Santa Barbara. The clinic's phone number is 805.500.8300. The opinions expressed are those of the authors.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >