We’re vegetarian in our house so our main staple of food is sourced from vegetables and fruits, as well as pulses & grains so this post really hits home for me.
Now, before you start reading, I’m not in anyway pushing you to go out and start stocking up on organic produce. I am sadly very aware that we’re in the middle of a crisis and financially we’re all struggling due to the upheaval we’ve been faced with over the past four months. A struggle which has in no way bypassed our household.
If I’m perfectly honestly, I don’t necessarily think organic across the full range is necessary and like anything it is of course always a personal choice.
When you think about the level of work that goes into producing an organic product, you may well think its easy, nothing is added to it, so therefore it should in theory be less expensive, and yes to a certain extent this is true. Buying direct from farmers is in fact cheaper than purchasing from the supermarkets but as most of us don’t have the means to purchase direct from local farms, once the product has travelled and consumer demands are met by supermarkets – we see the price hike up.
The truth is that in order to officially declare something ‘organic‘ nothing has had to have been grown on that land for three years prior to be able to certify it 100% organic. Both in the USA and the UK, for food to be labelled organic, at least 95% of the ingredients included must come from organically produced plants and / or animals. These foods also have be approved by an Organic Certification body to ensure the foods meet the strict criteria and regulations set out by the governing body.
Next time you go shopping try to look out for the Soil Association label when purchasing and you’ll be able to see that some of the products you already buy are probably organic without you even realising it. Organic fruit and vegetables will have zero pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and no chemical fertilisers will have be used in the growing process. Organic meat products will be free range, contain no hormones and will be free of antibiotics.
Unfortunately all pesticides have some level of toxicity in them which can pose a risk during pregnancy and as your baby’s brain, organs and nervous system are developing, they can be more susceptible to the effects given off from pesticides.
What are pesticides?
Pesticides are basically chemicals that are used to destroy and/or control the growth of weeds and these are categorised under ‘herbicide’. You then have your insecticides which will kill and reduce the infestation of insects, followed by rodenticides or more colloquially, you’ll know it as rat poison but with a fancy name and is used to control – you guessed it – rodents and then you have fungicides which are used to reduce the growth of fungi.
Some pesticides have been linked to problems with miscarriage and birth defects and some pesticides may also pass into the breast milk.
BUT – before you start freaking out, I still stand by my opening statement – I don’t think that organic is crucial or needed across the whole spectrum of the foods we eat. I think like anything, it comes down to having a greater awareness of the foods we put in our body. Be label savvy and always ensure you thoroughly wash your produce before eating and cooking.
However, there are a list of vegetables and fruits known as the “dirty dozen” which are known to be particularly high in pesticides when not organically grown. ⠀⠀These are the ones I want to draw your attention to; to make you aware of.
There is some good news though, we have bacteria in our gut that can help us balance out the pesticides but it’s worth taking a look at the most widely tainted produce below and definitely worth thinking about the produce you pick up next time you pop to the supermarket. ⠀⠀
Kale and spinach often contain up to 80% more pesticide residues than other vegetable. They grow close the ground where they’re exposed to insects which can infest them and therefore reduce their chances of being sold so they’re often heavily sprayed and then there are strawberries which are my favourite fruit but one I only ever buy if they’re organic or when in season from our local farm. In fact my husband showed me a rather nasty video he saw of strawberries siting in water over night and it turned my stomach.
So the dirty dozen looks a little like this
- SPINACH/ KALE
- SWEET BELL PEPPER
Before I finish lets remember that above all else, the most important factor we need to take into consideration is that eating a wide and varied amount of fruit and vegetables is still key. If stretching to organic is just not possible please remember to make sure you wash your produce thoroughly and try out your local farmers and farmers markets if you can. Its so much fun.
In a world where we’re all trying to be a little more sustainable, eating seasonal produce is pretty much top of the list of things we can actually control and it really makes a difference in our contribution to the planet.
One little step at a time is all it takes. ⠀⠀
Other than reducing our carbon footprint we’re also reducing our pesticide consumption which in my opinion when we’re pregnant is a time when we should really be considering just what we’re putting in our bodies.