As I have mentioned, eating organic is important to our family for many reasons. But it is not the most frugal choice. As a rule of thumb, I select organic vs. non-organic produce based on the “dirty dozen” list whenever possible.
This annual list published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), warns consumers about fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide levels. The 2011 list was just released, and it includes a few changes over last year’s.
Dirty Dozen 2011
- Nectarines (imported)
- Grapes (imported)
- Sweet bell peppers
- Blueberries (domestic)
- Kale/collard greens
New this year, apples top the list as number one and lettuce is now present. Yikes! From what I read, even washing these items does not reduce the pesticides to a “safe” level. Thankfully, the report also gives us the “clean fifteen” – those with the lowest levels of pesticides.
Clean Fifteen 2011
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas
- Cantaloupe (domestic)
- Sweet potatoes
I love seeing watermelon and avocado on that list!
The EWG points out that if consumers simply chose their daily recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables from the least contaminated list over five from the dirty dozen, they would reduce the amount of pesticides ingested by 92% – without having to shell out extra money for organics. *source
Notice it is not completely necessary to purchase organic. Simply choosing foods off the clean list will help reduce pesticides in your diet. I often find organic produce marked down as a manager’s special for lower than the cost of conventional produce.
You can receive a PDF version of the guide here to print out and keep with you for easy shopping.