The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen are a list of fruit and vegetables that are the most and least contaminated by pesticides. As we discussed in earlier weeks, these chemicals, along with our household products and toiletries are toxic to our body and are linked to a variety of health problems including cancer, fertility disruption and other illness.
Chemicals such as pesticides, antibiotics and hormones are used in plant and animal farming to boost production and ensure adequate food supply. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) sets the maximum allowed limits for agricultural and veterinary chemical residues present in foods in Australia (both domestic and imported foods). The levels of agricultural and chemical residues that are allowed in foods are considered safe and must represent the lowest level possible, complying with best industry practices.
The use of pesticides can dramatically increase crop production and ensure a higher quality of produce. However, pesticides are also toxic chemicals designed to kill agricultural pests, and some can cause problems if they are consumed by humans in large amounts.
In animal farming, drugs such as antibiotics and hormones are used to boost growth and cut down on feed requirements. Residues of these drugs can also be hazardous to humans. The level of harm from exposure to pesticides, animal antibiotics and hormones is dose related, meaning the more you consume, the greater the potential risk.
Switching to organic food can be costly, but there are also health costs to consider if you continue to chow down on chemical laden food. Why not make a gradual change by swapping a few things over each week and if you do decide to buy non-organic, use the Dirty Dozen as a guide when shopping.
For good value organic produce, try shopping at an organic weekend market, join a co-op or you could even grow your own little veggie garden at home. Whatever you decide, make sure you’re always making an informed decision about what you’re eating. Do your own research and take control of your health.