Should all my groceries be organic?
Nine food products seems to contribute to the majority of Danish consumers’ pesticide intake.
It can be a challenge to meet a demand of 100% organic food, especially when the price difference between organic and conventional food is vast. Price conscious consumer may choose conventionally grown fruits and vegetables when the organic option is considered too expensive. But there might be a smarter way to prioritize organic shopping.
Technical University of Denmark (DTU) makes regular spot checks, also known as pesticide control, of fruit, vegetables and cereals bought in Danish supermarkets. The latest results from 2014 showed that non-Danish foods more often contain pesticide residues compared to Danish food. For 75% of the Danish vegetables no pesticide residues were found, whereas this number was 48% for vegetables produced in other EU countries.
Among samples of organic food from abroad, pesticide residues were found in a few cases (2.8%), while there was no pesticide residues found in any of the Danish organic products. As in previous years, pesticide residues were found more often in conventionally grown fruits (68%) compared to conventionally grown vegetables (41%). An analysis of the pesticide control data combined with Danish consumption habits showed that the majority (76%) of the pesticides Danish consumers ingest through food typically comes from about 9 products. Apples are expected to be the single food product, which contributes the most to Dane’s pesticide intake (30%). This is followed by wheat flour (11%), tomatoes (8%), pears (7%), carrots (6%), grapes (6%), cucumbers (3%), red wine (3%) and rye flour (3%).
The analysis takes into account the amount of pesticide content in the products and the consumption habits of an average adult. In conclusion, a consumer on a budget can benefit from prioritizing organic options for these nine products and then generally go for locally produced food to minimize pesticide intake.
DTU Fødevareinstituttet, Pesticide Residues, Results from the period 2004-2011, 2013.