Organic products are cropping up (no pun intended) everywhere these days. And while we know that organic is better, do we really understand why? Or which items we should splurge on and where we can skimp?

Pesticides are used to improve crop yields which in turn has increased the overall quantity of fresh produce available. This increase in supply has meant positive things for public health. However, pesticides also damage the environment and accumulate in ecosystems. Some pesticides can cause a range of adverse effects on human health, including cancer, acute and chronic injury to the nervous system, lung damage, reproductive dysfunction, and possibly dysfunction of the endocrine and immune systems.

Dr. Natalie Geary, a pediatrician in NYC, states that children are more vulnerable to these toxins than adults. She also points out on her blog that studies on the affects of these chemicals has not been done on children during critical stages of development, so the best information we have relates to adults. That, quite frankly, isn’t good enough.

The Environmental Working Group has posted a wallet guide of produce they tested for pesticides after washing or peeling. Here is what they have to say about the importance of choosing produce wisely:

“There is growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can adversely affect people, especially during vulnerable periods of fetal development and childhood when exposures can have long lasting effects. Because the toxic effects of pesticides are worrisome, not well understood, or in some cases completely unstudied, shoppers are wise to minimize exposure to pesticides whenever possible.”

Clearly we, as parents, really need to do our homework when it comes to choosing which foods to feed our children. Our food doesn’t come with a guarantee that it’s safest for our children, though many of us would argue it should. The Consumers Union suggests,

“the simplest solution is to choose organic foods, which contain two-thirds fewer residues.” They recommend that the foods listed below, which are highest in pesticides, are best to purchase organic.


  1. Winter Squash
  2. Wheat
  3. Strawberries
  4. Green Beans
  5. Celery
  6. Apples
  7. Peaches
  8. Grapes
  9. Spinach
  10. Pears

In my house we are also striving to buy local and seasonal produce to minimize the environmental impact of importation. Thank goodness NYC has bountiful farmer’s markets!