Monday, February 20, 2012

The Dirty Dozen

What do you think about buying organic

Tell you the truth, my frugality streak tends to overshadow my healthy-green streak in this area. Milk and eggs? I buy these chiefly when they're on special for $1 per half-gallon or dozen at my cheapest grocery store. Produce? On principle, I rarely buy anything over $1/lb.

I know, I know, who wants to go around eating genetically what-notted, irradiated, pesticide-sprayed produce? (Can it even still be considered health-food after all that??) But organic food is so much more expensive.

Or so I thought.

While I was doing research for this post, I pulled up a weekly ad for my favorite produce source—and I was surprised to find that featured organic produce averaged only 10 cents/lb. more expensive than its counterpart. For example, regular Cameo apples are running 88 cents/lb. and organic Cameo apples are running 99 cents/lb. Well, who knew? If that's all, why not buy the organic ones? And so I did.

Maybe buying organic is within your budget if you'll nose around and do some price shopping.

You can also  decrease the amount of contaminants you're swallowing by making informed choices on what you do or don't buy organic.  I'm a fan of the EWG's Dirty Dozen. Every year, they test produce for pesticide residues and rank them by their contaminant level. For example, apples top their list as the most contaminated: 2 or more pesticides were found on 92% of the apples they tested! So if you're going to buy anything organic, here's the dirty dozen to focus on:
  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Sweet Bell Peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (domestic)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale and Collard Greens
They also provide a Clean Fifteen that test lowest for pesticide residue:
  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet Potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms
But shouldn't washing remove the pesticide left on my produce? The EWG actually conducts their tests on produce "as it is typically eaten." So those apples that tested positve for two or more pesticides tested positive after they'd been washed. Yikes!