Organic gardening shows difference in pesticide levels

There is a difference in pesticide levels in organic and non organic produce.
There is a difference in pesticide levels in organic and non organic produce.

LAWRENCE COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - A recent report by Stanford University looked at more than 200 previous studies comparing organic and non organic produce. Parkway Campus Registered Dietician Kim Donohue deciphered the study.

"Statistically, there was no significant difference in the vitamins. Now there was a difference in the pesticide levels," said Donohue.

And that can make a healthy difference for the careful shopper.

"Of course organic foods do have lower pesticide levels, although fruits and vegetables do make natural pesticides to protect themselves," Donohue said.

She said produce also absorbs pesticides differently.

Donohue said it goes back to what's known as the "dirty dozen" or the "clean 15."

"Fruits and vegetables with thinner skins tend to hold more pesticides. Fruits with thicker skin tend to hold less pesticides. Apples, imported grapes, sweet bell peppers - they have more pesticides."

She said produce grown in the U.S. also contains fewer pesticides.

At the Adair Farm in Lawrence County, no pesticides are used. On this particular farm, they have about 100 acres. Within that 100 acres, they grow about 300 types of apples. Martin Adair is the farmer in charge.

"I use fish emulsion, and may on my strawberries - that's the only fertilizer I use," he said.

Adair converted the family farm to organic five years ago. A greenhouse will grow winter greens to sell to local restaurants, but his biggest money maker is the apple crop.

"The moisture is where all of your disease and insects are going to collect, so if you clean out the inside of your tree, you'll get more airflow through there," said Adair.

In addition to apples, he grows chestnuts, pecans, muscadines, figs, raspberries and much more.

However, buying organic is more expensive.

"For every four apples you pick, you're going to lose two, and that's one of the reason organics is more expensive," said Adair. "Another way, instead, of getting the air flow is keeping your orchard floor clean and low."

He said summer insects retreat to woods if the grass is very low, which is also helpful and healthy for the fruit bearing plant.

Adair sells his produce at Albany Bistro; Madison City Farmers Market, Green Street and the Decatur/Morgan Co. Farmers Market.

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