As I have mentioned, eating organic is important to our family for many reasons; unfortunately, it is not the most frugal of choices. The good news is there are more and more coupons for organic items, including produce. 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 2012 list was recently released, they have “… expanded the Dirty Dozen with a Plus category to highlight two crops — green beans and leafy greens, meaning, kale and collard greens – that did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but were commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. These insecticides are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade. But they are not banned and still show up on some food crops.”
Dirty Dozen 2012
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Blueberries (domestic)
*plus Green Beans
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 2012
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas
- Cantaloupe (domestic)
- Sweet Potatoes
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
You will notice that 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.