The Art of Buying Organic
Buy certified organic (“bio”) meats, fish, dairy, fruit, and veggies whenever you can – it contains no antibiotics and pesticides harmful to your and your gut bacteria.
The Dirty Dozen
If you are unable to buy organic food, you can try to avoid the “dirty dozen”, the fruits and veggies grown with the highest number of pesticides.
According to the Environmental Working Group, just switching these twelve to organic can reduce pesticide exposure by 80% 26 : Apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and potatoes 27 .
Although Whole Foods is marketed as a grocery store that sells the “finest natural and organic foods available,” that’s not the whole truth regarding the products they sell and the food they prepare in-house.
Whole Foods is currently under public scrutiny after launching their produce rating program. Tons of organic farmers have vocalized their concerns surrounding this new rating system, as they claim it devalues the organic label and threatens their business models.
Whole Foods’ rating system, Responsibly Grown, was designed to provide customers with more information about how their food is grown. However, suppliers must pay for this rating, resulting in a steep cost for organic farmers.
Organic produce farms are often smaller farms that aren’t owned and operated by rich and powerful corporations like Monsanto. The organic certification is costly enough already, and many farmers can barely afford that, let alone an additional rating system.
The new rating system takes into account much more.
Whole Foods is asking its suppliers to pay a fee to get into the program, then answer a long questionnaire. There are questions about how they protect the soil and wildlife on their farms, whether they limit their use of pesticides, how they conserve energy and irrigation water, and how they treat their workers.
The rating system essentially grades farmers on their produce in regards to pesticide usage, conservation efforts, water usage, and more. Based on these findings, they’re graded as Unrated, Good, Better, or Best. This in theory could create more transparency between farmers and consumers, which would be awesome.
Imported Organic Food
Some organic food may not live up to its label. According to an audit on the compliance of imported organic products with U.S. government standards, published on by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s, the agency hasn’t figured out how to ensure that shipments sprayed for insects at the port don’t get labeled organic before they reach grocery store shelves.