When to Buy Organic Produce

How do you make the most of your food dollar? Organic produce is generally more expensive than conventionally grown produce. When is it worth it to spend the money for organics? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a way to know exactly which types of produce need to be organic?

As a matter of fact, there is a way!

The FDA tests over 35,000 food samples for pesticide contamination every year and publishes that data. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) takes that data and posts the top offenders in the contaminated category called the “Dirty Dozen,” and the top contenders for the produce with the least amount of pesticide are called the “Clean 15.” Click here for a copy of the list. (You can also download the EWG app for your iOS or Android phone.)

So now that you have the EWG list, what do you do with it? Take it shopping with you!

The Clean 15

These are the types of produce that are less likely to absorb high amounts of pesticides. In other words, it is safe to go cheaper and not buy these organic. Although the list changes a little every year, certain foods tend to be included. Avocados, asparagus, pineapples, kiwi, broccoli, and cauliflower are all examples of “clean” produce.

The Dirty Dozen

These are foods which tend to hold pesticide residues and are best bought organic. Strawberries, spinach, any lettuce, cherries, pears, tomatoes, and grapes are frequently on the “dirty” list. You might not be able to taste the difference, but the organic choice will protect you from ingesting pesticide related toxins. It’s worth the price difference for these items to keep yourself, and your family, safe from pesticides.

Remember to Wash!

Regardless of whether produce is classified as “clean” or “dirty,” all produce needs to be washed. “Clean” produce will still have some pesticide residue that should be removed. Organic produce is more likely to have small insects present.

Start by submerging the veggies in a basin or sink filled with fresh water. After about 5 minutes lift the veggies out and then dump the water. You might notice grit and insects in the bottom of the basin. Rinse and refill the basin or sink. At this point, you can use a commercially available veggie wash, or use the following economical approach recommended by researchers at the University of Massachusetts. Simply add 2 teaspoons of baking soda for every 4 cups of water. Let soak 10 to 15 minutes. Scrub if needed. Rinse and dry before storing.

Why Should I Care?

It’s prudent to avoid toxins wherever you can to minimize the workload for your liver (your detoxifying organ). We are not always able to control our exposure to toxins, but the food we buy we can control–and we should.

Organic produce, especially if obtained at the farm, is fresh and comes from stronger plants because of the farming methods used. In my experience the produce lasts much longer which means you throw out less spoiled produce.

People tend to take care of their cars better than they take care of their bodies. Oil checks on a schedule, only high test for their “Baby.” Remember, you only get ONE body. Fuel it right.

Download the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list.