Buy Organic?

15 Jul

This month we are answering a question from Dr. Joe in Ann Arbor. He wrote, “My patients ask me if it is worth it to buy organic fruit. What should I tell them?”

Well Joe, let’s start with the story about how strawberries were created. It seems the Greek goddess Aphrodite was broken-hearted when she heard Adonis had perished. Myth has it her tears fell to earth as red hearts—and strawberries were created! Ironic, no? This oh-so-good-for-you fruit delivers a phytonutrient called anthocyanins that can help slash your risk of a broken heart because eating berries three times a week helps prevent heart attack! But wait, shouldn’t you buy organic, and isn’t that expensive? How do I eat these inexpensively?

So, tell your patients to reserve their money for organic produce that lets them dodge the fruits and veggies that come with the highest pesticide levels. (That’s apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, imported nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, domestic blueberries, lettuce, and kale according to the Environmental Working Group.) For females, the most important time to buy organic produce is when you are about to be or are pregnant.

Local, in-season produce is riper, tastier, and costs less than buying fruit out of season that’s shipped in. But often, buying frozen organically grown fruits is great choice, both financially (because they cost less) and nutrition-wise (frozen gives you just as many nutrients as fresh, more in some cases). Truth be told, organic blueberries dot my plate almost every Sunday.

Regardless if you buy fresh organic fruits and veggies or the frozen organic kind, you need to read the next two paragraphs.

You see, we want you to get the berry-benefits without risking a tummy ache, diarrhea, or worse. Berries, along with leafy greens, potatoes, tomatoes, and sprouts, are the produce most likely to trigger food-borne illness. That’s because they can harbor salmonella, norovirus, E. coli and other trouble-makers that climb on board when produce is exposed to contaminated water or mishandled during processing or shipping. Fruits and veggies can also pick up these bugs in your kitchen if you don’t store or cook them correctly or if they come in contact with raw meat or seafood. So…

Wash your hands for 20 seconds before and after handling produce, every time.

Cut away discolored or soft spots and outside or wilted leaves.

Wash all produce in running water, no soap or disinfectant, even if you’re going to peel or cook it. Dry to further remove contaminants. Scrub firm produce like melons, potatoes, or cucumbers with a vegetable brush. Dry well.

Store all produce in the fridge at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (~4 degrees Celsius).

Thanks for reading. And feel free to send more questions, you can always send us questions at, and some of them we may know enough to answer (we’ll try to get answers for you if we do not know).

Young Dr. Mike Roizen (aka, The Enforcer)

NOTE: You should NOT take this as medical advice.
This article is of the opinion of its author.
Before you do anything, please consult with your doctor.

You can follow Dr Roizen (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week) on twitter @YoungDrMike.

Feel free to continue to send questions to You can follow Dr Roizen on twitter @YoungDrMike (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week). The YOU docs have a new web site: and its companion the only site we know of where you can find skin products proven to meet the claims (opened for business on June 1st, 2012), and a new book: YOU: The Owner’s Manual for Teens.

Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. His radio show streams live on Saturdays from 5-7 p.m . E-mail him questions at He is the co-author of 4 #1 NY Times Best Sellers including : YOU Staying Young and YOU: The Owner’s Manual. He is Chief Medical Consultant to the two year running Emmy award winning Dr Oz show– The Dr Oz show is #2 nationally in daytime TV. See what all the fun is about, and what he, The Enforcer, is up to. Check local listings or log onto for channel and time. And for more health info, log onto anytime.

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