The Environmental Working Group has recently come out with a new list for 2011 of the most contaminated produce. The EWG uses reports from the USDA to put this list together. There is a new one every year with slight variations, though many of the same foods appear every year with only a new position.
Why is this list important? Because not everyone can eat 100% organic, whether it be because of cost or location. This list allows you to steer clear of conventional produce that is highly contaminated. The EWG also puts out a 'Clean 15' list that has the top 15 least contaminated fruits and vegetables. It is reported that choosing produce from this list removes up to 93% of pesticides from your diet!
I know that I can't afford to buy all my produce organic, so I definitely try to keep this list in mind when I am shopping. While I don't really have to worry about vegetables this summer since I have my organic CSA, I still buy fruit every week. And if the price of organic is too much, or it simply isn't available as is the case for many stores around here, I simply choose an alternative that is not on the 'Dirty Dozen' list.
There is one more thing that is important to think about with this. Summer is now in full swing, which means that delicious and local produce is in full swing. Many local farmers use organic farming methods but are not certified by the USDA because it is a rather lengthy and expensive process that many can't afford. So while those delicious peaches down the road may not be "organic", it does not hurt to ask the growers about their farming methods.
The Dirty Dozen
- Imported Nectarines
- Imported Grapes
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Domestic Blueberries
- Kale/Collard Greens
I try to stick to this list, but what about you? If you can't find/can't afford the organic version, do you do without or buy it anyway?