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I thought all of you would be interested in this article fr today's Green Guide:

Green Guide 99 | November/December 2003
Organic Food: Healthy Eating by P.W. McRandle

The USDA's organic food label remains the all-around top choice in food certification, providing clear standards and third-party verification and supported by research showing that organic agriculture is better than conventional both for the environment and your health. Consider that conventionally grown fruit and vegetables can be coated with the residues of as many as 51 different pesticides, while organic has two thirds less. Meanwhile, other good labels are on the rise: "Locally Grown," "Integrated Pest Management" (IPM) for pesticide reduction and "Marine Stewardship Council" (MSC) for sustainably fished. Movements like Slow Food and France's "geographic indictator" regional labels help preserve heirloom animals and seed lines, maintaining genetic diversity.

Top 10 Fruits & Vegetables to Buy ONLY Organic

In January 2003, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that American children had up to twice the levels of many pesticides in their bodies as adults. But eating organic limits exposures. Last March, a University of Washington study showed that children fed organic diets had one sixth the level of metabolized organophosphate pesticides as those fed conventional foods.

If you want to reduce your family's exposures, pick up organic varieties of these most contaminated "top ten":

Fruits: Peaches, Apples, Strawberries, Nectarines and Pears.

Vegetables: Spinach, Bell Peppers, Celery, Potatoes and Hot Peppers.

Less-contaminated conventional foods include blueberries, plums, avocado, radishes and broccoli.

Animal Products

Feedlots that crowd cattle provide ideal conditions for spreading pathogens like salmonella, listeria and E. coli. Last year alone saw the nation's second-largest beef recall and third-largest poultry recall. Yet antibiotic-laced feed, given to combat illness, promotes resistant strains. Last summer, the U.S. halted Canadian beef imports upon news of mad cow disease. Yet the U.S. still allows cattle feed to include cattle blood and other animal protein, even though feeding ruminants to ruminants has been shown to transmit this disease. Happily, the USDA's National Organic Program stipulates that organically raised animals cannot be fed animal products or dosed with antibiotics or hormones. Since studies show dioxins concentrate in meats, animals not fed animal products should have lower levels of this toxin too. In addition to products labeled "organic," also look for the Free Farmed label, which promises healthy, species-appropriate conditions for animals.

A Caution on Farmed Fish: There are no U.S. standards for organic aquaculture, and many farmed fish contain higher levels of pcbs and dioxins, and have harmful environmental impacts. Farmed salmon ATLANTIC also has added dyes and many stores label it as "color added."

Wild Complications

In the Iraq appropriations bill, Alaskan senators tacked on an amendment allowing wild Alaskan salmon to be labeled "organic" even though the label is intended for agricultural products. When the federal standards for organic food were issued, the National Organic Standards Board had refused to include wild salmon. Although we like wild Alaskan salmon for other reasons, there's no knowing what it's been eating.

See downloadable pocket guides and product reports on fish, meat, milk, poultry and eggs at


Consumers Union (see for more information on labels)

Environmental Working Group (see

Organic Trade Association (; 413-774-7511)

Slow Food USA (; 212-965-5640)

USDA National Organic Program (

© 2003 The Green Guide Institute

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