The dirt on organic fruits and vegetables

A diet high in plant based foods has many health benefits

Simone Jennings, registered dietician with Interior Health

People often ask me if they should buy organic fruits and vegetables. Some of the common questions I get include: “Are organic foods better for you? “Are they worth the extra cost?” or “I want to reduce my exposure to pesticides, which fruits and vegetables have the most residues?”

I always start by ensuring people that a diet high in plant based foods has many health benefits including reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other health problems. The benefits of consuming adequate amounts of fruits and veggies outweigh the risk of pesticide exposure. So regardless of whether you choose conventionally grown produce or organic, the main goal should be to get a minimum of seven to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.  One serving equals one piece of fruit or vegetable or half a cup chopped.

However, if you are looking to reduce your exposure to pesticides and it’s within your budget to purchase organic then I think it’s worth it. It’s even better if you can purchase your organic food from a local source. Choosing local foods and buying organic when possible supports a more sustainable food system and allows the industry to grow.

We are entering the time of year where local food is becoming abundant in our province so take advantage of your local farmers markets. The thing I love about the farmers market is you can talk directly to the person who grows your food! You can inquire about their farming practices and use of pesticides (if any). Some foods tend to be more heavily treated, as they are difficult to grow without getting bugs in them (if you have a cherry tree you probably know what I mean). However, other fruits and vegetables tend to be more naturally ‘bug free’ and require little or no treatment. You can significantly lower your pesticide intake by limiting the most contaminated produce (or buying them organic) and eating more of the least contaminated fruits and vegetables.


The Environmental Working Group has recently released the 2012 “Shoppers Guide to Pesticide in Produce.” The guide can help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues. It is important to consider this as a general guide, not a hard and fast rule, as pesticide levels on foods can vary depending on where and how they are grown. The list was created based on studies done in the U.S. on local and imported fruits and vegetables. Nearly all of the studies tested produce after it had been rinsed or peeled. To view the extensive list of foods and a downloadable shoppers guide visit



Just Posted

Editor, The Times

Democracy is fragile, needs tending

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

Editor, The Times:

Staying true to core beliefs of family, friends, community, and our freedoms

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

Two B.C. cannabis dispensaries raided on legalization day

Port Alberni dispensaries ticketed for “unlawful sale” of cannabis

Earthquake early-warning sensors installed off coast of B.C.

The first-of-its kind warning sensors are developed by Ocean Networks Canada

VPD ordered to co-operate with B.C. police watchdog probe

According to the IIO, a court is ordering Vancouver police to co-operate with an investigation into a fatal shooting

B.C. woman looks to reduce stigma surrounding weed-smoking moms

Shannon Chiarenza, a Vancouver mom of two, started to act as a guide for newcomers to legal cannabis, specifically mothers

B.C. teen gives away tickets to Ellen Degeneres show, plans O Canada welcome

The Grade 9 student wanted to give away tickets in the spirit of inclusivity

Canada’s top general takes aim at new reports of military sexual assault

Gen. Jonathan Vance is unhappy some troops continue to ignore his order to cease all sexual misconduct

Ignoring climate change poses potential catastrophe for B.C.

Fisheries scientist says ‘extraordinary challenges’ in water management lie ahead

Most Read