“I’m strong to the finish, ‘cause I eats me spinach. I’m Popeye the sailor man!”

Admit it—you totally sang along while reading that. It’s probably one of the most well-known songs written about a leafy green. Spinach is well-known for being nutrient dense, packed full of vitamins and contains cancer preventing benefits. But the Environmental Working Group is putting spinach toward the top of its “Dirty Dozen” list saying people should avoid this super food, unless it’s grown organically. Why? Because they “discovered” 97 percent of the conventionally-grown spinach they tested had pesticide residues.

Here’s what they fail to tell you though.

As a woman, I could consume 774 cups of spinach in one day before I’d feel any negative effect from pesticide residues. (Something I’m not planning to do any time soon). The EWG tries to scare consumers into purchasing certain types of products by only giving grocery shoppers half the story. For example, it sounds pretty scary if you hear there are insecticides on your food, but the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program works with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to test foods for all sorts of residues before they reach grocery store aisles.

In fact, the foods tested had such a small amount of substance, that it would be fair to compare it to a fraction of a single drop of water in an entirely full bathtub. And even in a pilot study done by the USDA, there were certain organic products that had detections of pesticide residues.

Dietitians say the biggest health risk from the EWG report isn’t the false claims and cherry-picked science, it’s that people will be scared off from eating veggies and fruit so essential to a healthy diet. Other criteria should guide choices. In fact, the Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index® shows most Iowans agree freshness is at the top of their priority list when it comes to food selection.

Whether you choose to purchase organic or conventionally grown produce, your body needs the good nutrients and vitamins that both organic or non-organic foods like spinach can provide. So, eat up, and you can be strong to the finish, too!

By Caitlyn Lamm. Caitlyn is Iowa Farm Bureau's Public Relations Specialist.