Do I need to Buy Organic Fruits and Vegetables?

Author: The Tracey Birnhak Nutritional Counseling Program at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Reviewed: September 5, 2019

Question:

Do I need to buy all organic fruits and vegetables to protect myself against pesticides?

Answer:

No. Overall, research shows that the health benefits of eating produce far outweigh the risk of pesticide exposure, so there is no need to spend extra money to buy organic produce.

If you choose to buy organic, look for produce that carries the "USDA Certified Organic" label. Also, remember to thoroughly wash all produce with water. Washing will remove any remaining pesticides. Special fruit or vegetable rinses are not necessary. Rinsing well with cool water or soaking produce in a solution of one teaspoon of baking soda and 2 cups of water for two minutes or more (the longer you soak, the more chemicals you can get rid of). Rinse in tap water again before eating.

Many studies have been done looking at pesticide exposure from commercially grown fruits and vegetables. These studies show very little proof of cancer risk from pesticides and other chemical residues in foods. Frightening headlines or web sites stating that pesticides in foods cause cancer are based on animal studies using doses of pesticides high above those normally found in foods. Additionally, the United States regulates the use of pesticides to keep amounts at safe levels.

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