Are You Wasting Your Money on Organic Food?

Every time I walk into a grocery store, I see signs and labels trying to convince me of some food's healthy qualities. Organic... all-natural... local...

Hundreds of food products... from cereal to meat, beverages to produce... are labeled and marketed this way... all attempts to persuade the consumer that the food is healthy.

But here's the catch... The "all-natural/organics" fad is obscuring a real problem in our food supply.

The issue is pesticides. Foods containing pesticides have been linked to Parkinson's disease and human thyroid dysfunction. These poisons are also known to alter human liver and brain function. And the effects happen indirectly from just minute amounts of these chemicals. In the smallest amounts, they contaminate water supplies, which can kill animals and result in human birth defects.

And consumers are being conned into thinking these "organic" or "all natural" foods eliminate this risk, when really, none of these terms ensure the overall healthiness or safety of the food.

First... let's dispense with "all natural" and "local." When it comes to health, these terms are virtually meaningless.

Calling a food "all natural" means nothing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no formal definition of when a product can be called "all natural" (unless a food is a meat or an egg). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires meat, poultry, or eggs to have "no artificial ingredients or added color and be only minimally processed" before the product can be called all-natural.

The term "local" varies from state to state. "Local" can mean food grown in a certain radius or simply somewhere within your state... It doesn't reflect how the product was made (if pesticides or artificial ingredients were used). Like the "all natural" label, the government does not regulate the use of this term.

Finally, there's "organic"... Products bearing this label must be made with organic ingredients, which are USDA-certified.

Most folks think that "organic" means the product is made without the use of synthetic or chemical pesticides or herbicides. Not true. Organic farms still use pesticides. They just use pesticides that are labeled "organic" and certified by the National Organic Standards Board.

Two of the most common organic pesticides are rotenone and pyrethrin...

Rotenone is toxic to aquatic life. And a study from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found people who used this pesticide were 2.5 times more likely to develop Parkinson's disease.

Pyrethrin has its risks as well. From 2003 to 2007, 20 deaths linked to the pesticide were reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It's also extremely toxic to dogs and cats.

Not only that... but foods can consist of up to 5% nonorganic chemicals and still bear the "organic" label.

Here at Retirement Millionaire Daily, we're all about finding ways to live a better life on less. That means knowing which veggies and fruits have the most and the least chemicals.

An organization called the Environmental Working Group created a list of the "Dirty Dozen" – the 12 foods that have the highest amounts of pesticides. You can see this list below. We've also added in the far-right column the 12 foods that have the least amounts of pesticides. Cut this out and post it on your fridge. Take a copy with you to the grocery store.

Rank Highest in Pesticides...
The Dirty Dozen
Lowest in Pesticides...
The Clean 12
1 Strawberries Avocados
2 Apples Sweet corn
3 Nectarines Pineapples
4 Peaches Cabbage
5 Celery Frozen sweet peas
6 Grapes Onions
7 Cherries Asparagus
8 Spinach Mangos
9 Tomatoes Papayas
10 Sweet bell peppers Kiwi
11 Cherry tomatoes Eggplant
12 Cucumbers Honeydew melon

To protect yourself, do what I do...

When buying foods from the Dirty Dozen list... I do buy organic. It's not a cure-all, but the restrictions reduce some pesticide exposure and are better than nothing. (When buying produce on the "clean" list, I save a few bucks and skip the organic offerings.)

More important... wash all your produce with a mixture of white vinegar and water. I let everything soak for a bit and then rinse the fruits and vegetables off with just water. This method is effective since most of the pesticide residue sits on the skin.

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