When to Buy Organic: The “Dirty Dozen”

organic produce

Organic produce (and especially local, organic produce) just feels right. Organic fruits and vegetables might lack that creepy, shiny, technicolour look of conventionally grown produce, but they make up for the occasional spot or bump in amazing, fresh taste. When produce is in season and grown healthfully it tastes AMAZING!  My mom always had a small vegetable garden out back when we were kids. Weeding it was our most fearedpunishment, but gathering and eating is a fond childhood memory. We had fresh produce for our meals all summer and yummy home preserves and pickles all winter. A “baby carrot” from the big box grocery store tastes nothing like a carrot pulled fresh from the garden. And I’ll take a few flecks of soil on my mushrooms or spinach over pesticides any day. Knowing some filthy airplane didn’t fly over your lettuce, spraying it with chemicals, is peace of mind worth paying for. But you do have to pay. Organic food is more expensive than conventionally grown food because its production generally entails higher standards for animal welfare, higher labour costs, smaller yields and higher marketing and infrastructural costs. When dollars matter, consider which organic foods give you the best ‘bang for your buck.’ The 8th edition of the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides was just released with updated info on 45 common fruits and veggies, and their associated pesticide loads. The “dirtiest” items are worth buying organic and the “cleanest” can be washed before eating with minimal exposure to pesticides, on average. Spend your money on these organics. Here are the 2012 Dirty Dozen Plus:

  • apples
  • celery
  • sweet bell pepperspesticides
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • nectarines
  • grapes
  • spinach
  • lettuce
  • cucumbers
  • blueberries
  • potatoes
  • green beans
  • kale/collard greens

Save your cash on these conventionally farmed foods. They are the Clean Fifteen, the least pesticide-affected of those we eat often:

  • onions
  • sweet corn (although commonly contains GMOs – genetically modified organisms – so you may consider organic here as well if you are concerned about Frankenfoods)
  • pineapples
  • avocado
  • cabbage
  • sweet peas
  • asparagus
  • mangoes
  • eggplant
  • kiwi
  • cantaloupe
  • sweet potatoes
  • grapefruit
  • watermelon
  • mushrooms

Print this list out before your next shopping trip and you can save money where it doesn’t matter! See the full summary: www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary

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