Whenever possible, 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 is usually more expensive than conventional food and many people can’t afford it. While I still maintain you can’t afford not to eat organically (it’s cheaper than the doctor), I of course understand. That’s where the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15” guidelines developed by the Environmental Working Group come in handy. The EWG is a non-profit watchdog organization, which uses “the power of public information to protect public health and the environment” and “empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier 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 most susceptible because they have soft skin that tends to absorb more pesticides. They are, starting with the worst:
- sweet bell pepper
- nectarines – imported
- cherry tomatoes
- snap peas – imported
+ 2 more
- hot peppers
- 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:
- sweet corn
- sweet peas – frozen
The organic food market is growing and organic foods are now easily found in conventional grocery store chains as well as natural food markets. To be sure the produce you choose is organic, check the sticker on the fruit or vegetable. If the code number starts with a “9” ,then it is organic.
Next time you go grocery shopping, bring your Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen shopper’s guide. You’ll find it’s cheaper than you think to eat safely!
Visit the Environmental Working Group website to download the EWG Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce and to see their full list of all 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue data. Their website also contains shopper’s guides to safe cleaning products, safe cosmetics, safe sunscreen and a variety of other important topics.
For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.
Information compiled from ewg.org.