I’m not a registered dietitian or a nutritionist, but I am aware of the debate around organic versus conventionally-grown produce. In a nutshell, organic produce has far less residual pesticides (what’s left after you scrub the food in water) than produce grown using conventional (with pesticides) practices. Since the long-term effects of consuming pesticides used on food crops is not fully known, many advocate eating organic.
But reality strikes. If you’re like me, maybe you’ve wondered if a bunch of organic asparagus is worth the $5.99 price. Yet you feel slightly guilty pushing your cart past the organic section without stopping. What to do?
Enter the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15, two lists of produce compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). If most of us are reluctant to spend our limited dollars on typically more expensive organic produce, this food and environmental advocacy group realized they could help the average shopper make smarter choices. Their solution? The “Dirty Dozen,” a list of 12 common fruits and vegetables that retain the highest level of residual pesticides. Apples, celery and strawberries are the worst offenders. If your produce is on this list, the EWG suggests buying the organic version of that food.
Alternately, the “Clean 15” indicates the conventional, less expensive version of these foods is acceptable since they retain the lowest levels of residual pesticides. Everything from onions to avocados to mushrooms appear on this list. They even make a wallet-sized version so you can reference it while shopping. That bunch of asparagus? It’s #5 on the Clean 15, so I’ll happily drop the $2.99 bunch in my cart guilt-free.
We want to know from you how you make your purchasing decisions in the produce department. Do you dabble with buying organic or are you a devoted organic shopper? Share your experience with us here in our comments below.
And let’s not forget that, ultimately, it’s all about eating healthfully — whether your peach is organic or not. Check out our #HealthyEats board on Pinterest for foods we find scrumptious and nutritious. Send us a link to your board with your healthy picks!
A note on the author: Kate Warnock is a member of the Florida Blue social media team who thinks the DeKalb Farmers Market in Atlanta should relocate to Jacksonville so everyone can shop in grocery nirvana. Find her on Twitter @mkatewarnock.