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Strategic Spending on Organic Foods
I was reading today in The Times that organic food prices are rising. It reminded me of a really helpful list from the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, about how to be a strategic shopper when buying organic fruits and vegetables.
While there is an ongoing debate about whether buying organic food really makes a difference in terms of health, the reality is that some consumers choose organic foods because they want to lower their exposure to pesticides. For those shoppers, it makes sense to know when to buy organic and which conventionally-grown foods are good enough because they already are low in pesticide residue.
The Environmental Working Group tested dozens of fruits and vegetables to determine which foods are the worst offenders in terms of pesticide exposure. Some fruits and vegetables grown with conventional farming methods simply don't absorb the pesticides. Some examples of vegetables and fruits with very low pesticide residues are onions, mangoes, asparagus, broccoli and eggplant. So whether you pick them up from the regular produce section or the organic aisle, your pesticide exposure is going to be low.
So if you are on a budget, focus your organic dollars where it counts — on foods that suck in a lot of pesticides when grown using conventional farming methods. Foods that typically have high levels of pesticide residue include peaches, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, celery and lettuce.
To see the complete list of the 43 fruits and vegetables tested by the Environmental Working Group, click here. The site includes a printable chart of the dozen foods lowest in pesticide residue and those that are best purchased from the organic aisle. And to read the complete story about rising organic food prices reported by my colleagues Andrew Martin and Kim Severson, click here.