Originally published on Organic Matters by Melody Meyer, vice president of policy and industry relations for United Natural Foods.
It may sound corny, but it’s time to celebrate good old-fashioned fruits and veggies of the organic bent. We have been told since we were toddling to “eat your fruits and veggies dear.” We know that eating our fill will give us the finest of fiber and the vitality of vitamins and minerals. Loading up on fresh fare will keep us off the path to heart disease and obesity. If you’re like me, it’s comforting to know you can eat as much as you want and not feel the guilt or the bulge. There is, however, one important side note to this verdant theme. Organic fresh produce is your best path to health and even prosperity!
Can it be that eating organic fresh fruits and veggies provides an even healthier advantage? According to EWG’s 2016 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ it certainly does! This year EWG identified produce with the highest pesticide residues that comprise its Dirty Dozen™ list. In order of highest residue concentration, they are strawberries, apples, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. The report found a total 146 different pesticides on thousands of fruit and vegetable samples. These pesticides persist on fruits and vegetables even despite vigorous washing and peeling. So, if you can’t always buy organic you should put these Dirty Dozen™ fresh produce items on your always-organic shopping list!
More Key findings indicate that:
- More than 98 percent of strawberry samples, peaches, nectarines, and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
- The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
- A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
- Single samples of strawberries showed 17 different pesticides.
It’s enough to make an old produce gal like me shiver. It also makes my heart sing that I spent a good portion of my professional life buying, selling, and importing fresh organic produce. This is where the notion of prosperity comes in.
According to the Organic Trade Association Market Survey, Organic sales reached a whopping $39.1 billion in 2014. The largest category of all organic sales is fresh produce; sales were up 12 percent from 2013 to 2014. Fresh produce is at the front and center of the dynamic growth in the industry with a total of $11 billion in sales comprising 36 percent of all organic food sales! An astounding 23 percent of all carrots and 21 percent of all salads sold in the US are now organic! Not many other categories can boast such prosperous year-over-year growth!
Organic Produce is the gateway to the heart of the organic shopper. It’s the tangible look and taste of the luscious red berry that beckons. It is a fact that the organic shopper will start with the crisp apple, the juice-squirting nectarine, the turgid green celery and globular grapes and then go on to buy even more organic items in the store. This consumer is likely to spend more on average throughout the store on each and every shopping excursion. If you’re a retailer, that’s a significant organic strategy to embrace. Organic produce equals prosperity so keep it fresh, keep it well stocked and offer as many organic items as can be found.
If you are lucky enough to be one of those engaged in the organic produce trade you won’t want to miss the inaugural Organic Produce Summit to be held in Monterey, CA, July 13-14, 2016. The Organic Produce Summit is the place for retailers, and producers to celebrate the growth of organic fresh produce and dream of an even brighter future. In the years to come, organic fresh produce will be a key component for prosperity in many industries, with continued growth and prosperity from the produce shelves to vitamins, supplements, beverages, and personal health care products. Buying and selling organic produce leads to success from the farmer to the retailer and everyone in between.
There are many ways to participate in the health and prosperity of organic fresh produce. Always choose organic and if you can’t, consider the Dirty Dozen™ list as your guide. If you want to participate and lend your voice at the Produce Summit, registration is now open for exhibitors, retailers, and attendees and can be accessed through the event website www.organicproducesummit.com.
Buy organic, eat organic and sell organic, it’s the path to health and prosperity!
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