"I feel that I save on the doctor what I spend on organic food," says Pouillon. One important health benefit of that food, she believes, is the absence of pesticide residues. Conventional U.S. farms used 911 million pounds of synthetic pesticides last year, nearly one-third of which are suspected in playing some role in causing cancer, according to author Dr. John Wargo, director of the Center for Children's Environmental Health at Yale University.
While the effects of these chemicals on humans are the subject of much debate, Bob Scowcroft, executive director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation, says, "Common sense says to avoid them whenever possible. The anecdotal evidence raises enough concern that the sooner you can avoid products with chemical residues, the better off you'll be." It can't hurt. A 126-year-old Dominican woman recently credited a diet heavy on organic fruit and vegetables with her longevity (speaking of anecdotal evidence).
Pretzels, Popcorn, and Pizza
Fresh fruits and vegetables accounted for nearly half of organic food sales in 2000, but other categories are booming even faster. Organic dairy sales, for example, grew 60 percent, and organic chocolate sales jumped by 70 percent. Familiar names are getting in on the act, too. Francis Coppola Brands introduced organic olive oils and pasta sauces, and Newman's Own Organics makes pretzels, tortilla chips, cookies, and popcorn. Convenience foods like frozen dinners are readily available now, and organics are getting more conven-ient to buy, too - just check your supermarket's dairy case, and you'll probably find organic milk and yogurt next to the regular stuff.