Eating organic food is always preferable. Organic food is grown without chemical pesticides, may contain more natural antioxidants and nutrients linked to reduced risk for cancer, stroke, and heart disease, and tastes more flavorful. But, organic food can be more expensive. What do you do? You go by the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15” guidelines developed by the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization which uses the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.
The Dirty Dozen are the 12 fruits and vegetables most heavily sprayed with pesticides – they contain 47 to 67 pesticides per serving – and the ones you should always buy organic. These foods are believed to be most susceptible because they have soft skin that tends to absorb more pesticides. They are, starting with the worst: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, kale/collard greens.
The Clean 15 are the fifteen fruits and vegetables lowest in pesticides and not necessary to buy organic. They are, starting with the best: onions, corn, pineapples, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, mushrooms.
Organic foods represent the fastest growing food market, rising 21% annually, and are now easily found in traditional grocery stores like Stop and Shop and even Wal-Mart. Fortunately, following the Dirty Dozen is not a problem. For more information visit www.foodnews.org.