March 25, 2019 3 min read

EWG recently released its Dirty Dozen list of fruits and veggies from non-organic farms that have been found to contain the most pesticides. This is a big deal since the rise of knowledge and understanding of pesticides has created a push towards "going organic" in order to avoid the harmful residue.

The thing is: 'organic' does NOT equal 'pesticide free'.

Farmers that produce organic produce *wink* may use third-party validated pesticides. That's right. They may use pesticides.


What does that mean?

It means that organic farms are allowed to use certain pesticides that science has deemed safe to the environment and human health - whether science got it right or not is an entirely different matter.

What matters is whether or not you should spend the extra cash for the organic produce as opposed to the conventional kind in the hope that you'll remain healthy.

Let's break it down.

In order to be considered organic, the soil and the equipment utilized cannot have been contaminated with anything synthetic within the last three years.

The trick is that this is only the starting rule.


So can organic farms use synthetic pesticides or not?

The short answer: yes, they can. The longer answer is a bit trickier to explain.

Organic farms use organic pesticides. This just means that the pesticides come from natural sources, which sounds healthy and not pesticide-like at all! Here lies the main reason for thinking organic farms cannot use pesticides: it SOUNDS healthy.

Unfortunately, organic farms can use SYNTHETIC pesticides as well.

The National Organic Program (NOP) has a list of around 25 synthetic pesticides that organic farms may use. Some of those synthetic pesticides can be used daily and without having to get permission, whereas others on that list may ONLY be utilized if they cannot control their pest problem organically.


If organic farms can use synthetic pesticides, why not buy from conventional farms?

Again, this is a hard answer to simplify.

Studies show that a little over half of BOTH organic and synthetic pesticide options are carcinogenic (cancer causing). That's a negative point in both courts.

The first twist to this answer is that conventional farms have a list of over 900 synthetic pesticides they may use, whereas organic farms only have a list of 25 synthetic pesticides.

The next twist is that organic farms have actually been shown to have to use MORE pesticides per acre of land than conventional farms in order to keep pests away. Their organic pesticide options just don't cut it like the synthetic.

This sounds like we've been scammed!


What IS the better option?

It's really up to you to decide. I can spout off the lies, myths and negative BS about both types of farming for days; but what do YOU prefer?

I recommend doing your own research on the pros and cons.

Consider farmer's markets and get to know who you're buying from. What pesticides do they use?

Maybe you buy SOME produce organic and the rest conventional.

The only thing I ask is that you don't stop eating fruits and vegetables. The benefits of those foods outweigh the risks of pesticides.

So do your research and tell me: 

  1. How do YOU control your pesticide intake?
  2. What thoughts do you have on the organic vs conventional debate?

Happy health-hunting!