The Dirty Dozen

I never know what’s worth buying organic and what’s not.  They have organic everything.  But sometimes it costs twice as much and for something like a banana, does it matter?  I never know.  So I’ve been trying to use the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list as my guide, especially for food that we make for our bub. Confession: I’ve bought at least four of these in the last two weeks that were conventionally grown.  It’s just not that easy to find organic potatoes, for example.  Basically the list includes the twelve fruits/vegetables that were found to have the most pesticide residues.  Now use a little common sense here – of course it’s better to eat conventionally grown fruit and vegetables than none at all but if you have access to organic for at least these twelve, it’s a good choice.  It’s particularly important for children and pregnant women.

The Dirty Dozen:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Imported Nectarines
  7. Imported Grapes
  8. Sweet Bell Peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Domestic Blueberries
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/Collard Greens

They also provide a “Clean Fifteen” list of produce that were found to have the least pesticide residue.  These fruits and veggies are safer to eat non-organic.

The Clean Fifteen:

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocados
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Domestic Cantaloupe
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet Potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

Reviewing the list was helpful to me. I am not going to freak out if I can’t find an organic item on the dirty dozen list but if the option is there, I’m now more likely to take it. Now there are organizations that encourage you to take this list with a grain of salt.  For example, the Alliance for Food and Farming provides a pesticide calculator that helps show the number of servings someone would need to eat in order to experience the negative effects of pesticides.  You would need to eat a LOT of produce to get significant levels of pesticide exposure but really, if you have a healthier option, why not take it?  Produce is one of the few things you can buy at the market that is not processed.  The pesticides sitting on them are additives that YOU don’t need (I understand that the farmers do in order to provide the crops, but YOUR body doesn’t need those pesticides).  Luckily between the farmer’s market, Sprouts, and Trader Joe’s, I can find several of these in organic options.  The tough part is that I find that our list of markets continues to grow.  This week we went to four markets to get groceries.  Not particularly time efficient but then I’ve been thinking that if I do a good job with meal planning, maybe I SHOULD be going to the market several times a week to get the freshest produce.  Much of the world does this.  Hell, in India, the market comes to your house everyday – a guy with a cart walks buy and you can get your produce for that day.  And in France, people stop by the market on their way home from work for bread, dairy and fresh vegetables.  It’s really only here in the states where we have these monsterous refrigerators and freezers stockpiled full of packaged foods.  But I digress.  Hope this list is helpful to you and happy produce shopping!

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