Top 20 Heroic Organic Foods
Although the ideal is to provide your baby with a completely organic diet, there are several reasons why that might not be possible all the time. For one, organics can be more expensive than conventional foods, and some family budgets cannot support buying all organic all the time. Another reason is that, depending on the season, fresh, locally grown organic produce might not be available.
Choosing Pesticide-Free Organic Produce
When deciding which organics to choose, the relative pesticide load of each conventionally grown produce variety should be factored into the decision. The Environmental Working Group ranks produce based on its pesticide load. The fruits and vegetables at the top of the list are those that, when produced conventionally, carry the heaviest load of pesticides.
The following list includes the 20 fruits and vegetables for which it is most important to buy organic. To see an updated list, visit the Environmental Working Group's website.
- Sweet bell peppers
- Green beans
- Hot peppers
Even though most people wash their produce before eating or cooking, some pesticide residue can remain. This list considers common washing practices and the residue that remains after washing.
USDA-certified milk is produced at farms that follow all of the rules and regulations for organic dairy farming. These rules include feeding the cows an organic diet, using organic fertilizer, allowing the cows adequate space and access to fresh air, and restricting medications. Depending on economic circumstances, milk can cost up to twice as much as conventional milk. If that extra expense puts buying milk out of reach for your family 100 percent of the time, there are other options.
Some milk is fortified with Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that is required for healthy growth. Regular intake of Omega-3 can protect you from various diseases and helps you reduce incidences of heart disease, certain types of cancer, and arthritis.
Hormone-free milk is a category that falls somewhere between organic and conventional milk. The hormone rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) is a substance that is given to cows to increase their milk production. It can, however, increase the chance of infection and other health problems in the cows that receive it.
The idea behind rBGH-free or hormone-free milk is that cows are healthier without the hormone, and therefore require less medical care. Specifically, it is believed that these cows will need fewer antibiotics, and therefore there will be less chance of antibiotic residue in the milk supply from rBGH-free cows. For more information on rBGH or other synthetic hormones, visit the Organic Consumers Association or The Center for Food Safety.
Genetically Modified Organisms
The term genetically modified organism (GMO) is usually applied to food crops that have had their genetic material engineered to incorporate the genetic material of another species. Farmers have always taken advantage of cross-breeding, creating hybrids within a species and taking advantage of genetic mutations. The navel orange, for instance, is a mutation that has been commercially farmed for generations.
However, there is some controversy over whether introducing the genetic material of different species into seeds or plants is safe. Studies are currently underway to help us better understand whether GMOs are safe for the human body and/or the environment.
All organics are GMO-free, but so are many conventional fruits and vegetables. If you are trying to buy GMO-free, look for a label stating that the product doesn't use any genetically modified ingredients. According to the USDA, three crops make up the majority of GMOs in the United States:
For more detailed information, visit the USDA's website.
Choosing to buy food products that are formulated with the organic versions of these ingredients, or that avoid using these ingredients, will greatly decrease the occurrence of GMOs in your diet. For example, a juice drink that is free of corn syrup is much more likely to be free of GMOs than one that contains corn syrup.