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When to Splurge on Organic Food…and When Not to!

June 6, 2013

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It’s no secret that the benefits of buying organic produce are immense. However, an exclusively organic shopping list can be expensive, especially if you are shopping for your entire family. Luckily, some inorganic produce is still safe to eat. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has recently updated their Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists, both are handy guides to navigating the produce section of your local grocery store.

Dirty Dozen (plus two!)

These items have the highest exposure to potentially harmful pesticides, and should be bought organic whenever possible.

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Hot Peppers
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Kale and Collard Greens
  • Summer Squash

Clean Fifteen

This list of produce is least affected by pesticides and is considered the safest to buy not organic.

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Sweet Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Frozen Sweet peas
  • Sweet Potatoes

What else should you be aware of when shopping for the least contaminated grocery items?

Beef – It has been suggested that beef is one of the most important meats to buy organic. Research has shown that the hormones given to cows can cause cancer in humans. The estrogen-like growth hormones used on cattle are especially harmful to women as they increase the risk for breast cancer. When shopping for beef, choose certified organic and grass-fed options.

Milk – The same goes for milk. Hormones fed to cows are present in their milk.  When shopping for milk, make sure the label reads rBST-free, rBGH-free or produced without artificial hormones.

Canned Food – Its important to avoid buying canned foods whenever possible as the BPA in can linings seeps into the food. Instead, try to buy fresh produce, dried beans or tomato sauce in a glass jar. If you have the time, you could even try your hand at preserving your own produce in glass jars!

What are some items that you always buy organic, and why?