Organic foods are preferred because they are free from harmful chemicals like chemical fertilizers and pesticides. It is widely accepted that fruits with thin skins and vegetables are more likely to contain higher pesticide content when compared to thicker skin fruit. Thus, thin-skinned fruits like apples, strawberries, peaches, blueberries, nectarines, grapes, cherries, and mangoes are highly pesticide-vulnerable. Among vegetables, we have cucumbers, spinach, bell peppers, potatoes, lettuce, celery, etc.
Fruits with thicker skins, like banana, pineapple, kiwi, and cantaloupe, are likely to be more secure from pesticide excess load. Vegetables less likely to suffer from pesticides include asparagus, broccoli, onions, cabbage, and sweet corn. Conventionally grown apples have been found to contain a lot of pesticides.
According to the US Environmental Working Group’s evaluation of USDA information, pesticides appear in most of the samples tested. Up to 48 different pesticides have been identified in tested apple samples. This was true for both US and imported apples.
For several years in a row, Apple has been placed at the top of the list of most contaminated crops in the US by the Washington-based non–government organization Environmental Working Group (EWG). Other fruits and vegetables that regularly find a place in the topmost contaminated crops, named popularly as the Dirty Dozen, include peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, and potatoes.
Pesticides get deposited on the apple trees’ leaves, shoots, fruits, and branches in the pesticide spraying process. The concave depression where the apple fruit is attached to the branch aids the pesticide in seeping through the skin into the core of the fruit. The level of pesticides in organic apples is negligible compared to conventional apples.
Peeling the skin of the apple fruit would remove most of the pesticide deposited on the skin. But this leads to substantial nutrient loss. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, an unpeeled apple has nearly double the fiber, 25% more potassium, and 40% more Vitamin A and other vitamins. Apple peels also contain the bioactive compounds polyphenols, pectins, and ursolic acid. These compounds have been observed to help the body defend itself from many ailments.
The pesticides contaminating apples include Thiabendazole, which has carcinogenic properties, Pyrimethanil — a suspected hormone disrupter that could potentially cause neurological and reproductive effects, Phosmet a neurotoxin; Myclobutanil, Diazinon, which are reproductive toxins.
Compared to conventionally grown foods, the health protection features of organic foods are extensively studied. It is not as though organic foods have a higher nutritional value when compared to conventionally grown food products. But we benefit from going organic by avoiding ingesting harmful chemicals contained in conventionally grown foods.
I would recommend buying thin-skinned organic fruits and vegetables. Consuming thick skin fruits and vegetables that are conventionally cultivated should not harm our health.
You can learn more about organic foods here.