AARP has a "top ten" list of suggested organic purchases, and Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a "Dirty Dozen" list (and clean list) of foods affected by hormones, pesticides and other chemicals.
Whether you go "organic," "hormone-free" or choose other other "-free" foods, know what you're purchasing. Know what "organic" means (and seek guidance from reliable sources, such as the U.S.D.A.) AARP offers an easy-to-understand definition:
organic standards prohibit use of most conventional pesticides, irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers and genetically modified materials, while animals must be given no antibiotics or growth hormones.
Don't be afraid to ask questions of vendors at farmers markets (or even grocery store managers with "local" food sections). Know your definitions, whether something is "spray-free" or "hormone-free."
- Apples — EWG notes that 98 percent of conventional apples contain pesticide residues.
- Milk — Consider milk from dairy cows not fed rBST, a manufactured hormone that boosts milk production. While there's no solid evidence that rBST causes cancer in humans, it does cause udder infection in cows — which, in turn, are treated with antibiotics — which, in turn, are passed on to the human drinker. If you're trying to avoid antibiotics in your food, keep this in mind.
- Canned tomatoes — Chances are, your canned tomatoes contain Bisphenol_A (BPA). The Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health and U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) all worry about BPA's effect on the developing brains of fetuses, infants and young children.
- Celery — EWG lists it as number two on its "Dirty Dozen" list with nearly 96 percent tested showing evidence of pesticides.
What foods would you add to this list?