People often ask me if I always buy everything organic. While I try my best to do mostly organic, it’s just about impossible to only eat foods labeled organic. Plus, when it comes to produce, it’s not always necessary. What really matters is how the food was grown. Some smaller farms use all organic practices but haven’t gone through the full organic certification process yet because it can be expensive for a small business. Get to know your local farms and stands and the farmers’ market and ask about the farm’s practices. Local can be more fresh than a certified organic product that's taken days to ship across country to get to you.
When deciding between organic and conventional, I refer clients to the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. They research what’s in our tap water, the safety of our cosmetics, genetically modified organisms (GMO), and the amounts of pesticides in and on our food. Their Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists are updated each year and ranks pesticide contamination on popular fruits and vegetables. These lists are fantastic to take with you on your shopping trips to know when to buy organic and when it’s ok to buy conventional.
THE DIRTY DOZEN
Buy these organic whenever possible –
Sweet bell peppers
THE CLEAN 15
These are ok to buy conventional (not organic) – Updated 2017
Sweet peas (frozen)
If you read the full report of all 48 foods you’ll notice that a few common foods like bananas and carrots fall somewhere in the middle. I typically buy organic for these types of foods. If something seems abnormally high in price, I might just substitute it with something that’s in season and a lower price; for instance, fresh organic blueberries will be very expensive in the fall, whereas fresh organic apples will be a better price because they’re a fall food. Always just do the best you can when it comes to the quality of your food; I’m a firm believer that fresh produce is always better than no produce.
Keep in mind, washing produce doesn’t necessarily get rid of all pesticides and chemicals as it grows into the entire plant, but it can reduce your risk and exposure so be sure to always wash everything thoroughly. High costs are also a reason that I love frozen fruits and veggies–they end to be a better price and keep for months in the refrigerator. I almost always have frozen organic blueberries in my freezer for smoothies and other treats. I suggest keeping these lists on your phone or printing them off to take to the store with you. I have them saved in a my photos and can easily refer to the image while at the store for easy access. Happy Shopping!