While many health-conscious shoppers choose to buy organic produce, the reality is that this option isn’t always accessible to everyone.
With organic food often costing significantly more than non-organic food due to production, marketing and distribution costs as well as the limits of supply and demand (according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), many people struggle to buy organic, even if they want to make healthier, ethically sourced food a part of their daily diet.
Enter the Environmental Working Group, an organization which produces an annual report on the state of organic food in North America; their “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” lists of foods that are affected most and least by pesticides, respectively, have become a sort of bible for consumers trying to make the healthiest, most sustainable choices when it comes to produce, without breaking the bank.
This year, as in previous years, spinach, kale and collard greens made the Dirty Dozen list, meaning that if you’re going to splurge on organic produce, you should probably focus on organic versions of these popular veggies. Other foods featured on the Dirty Dozen list were apples, cucumbers, bell peppers, and grapes – all foods with relatively thin skins that don’t provide much protection from the harmful effects of pesticides.
Foods That Are Almost Completely Pesticide-Free
By contrast, foods on the “Clean Fifteen” list such as avocados, cantaloupe, eggplant, and grapefruit had relatively low rates of pesticide contamination – so even if you can’t afford to buy organic all the time, you can rest assured knowing that even non-organic versions of these foods are relatively safe to consume.
How clean you ask? According to the EWG of all avocados tested, only 1 percent showed any detectable pesticides at all, while a grand total of 89 percent of all pineapples tested had zero residues according to the study.
While non-organic sweet corn and papaya have very low amounts of pesticides 95% of these being sold on the market today are GMOs.
Whether you buy local, organic produce or opt to mix conventional and organic foods, the Mayo Clinic recommends the following tips for making sure your food is both as health and sustainable as possible:
- Mix it up. Don’t buy all your produce from a single source – buying a wider variety of foods from multiple sources will limit your exposure to any single pesticide.
- Buy seasonal food. Try locating a local farmer’s market and buying produce there to support local agriculture and make sure that you’re getting freshest food possible.
- Wash all your produce thoroughly before eating it. This helps remove not only pesticide residue, but also dirt and bacteria that even organic produce can have.
- Be aware of the contents of what you eat. Always read food labels carefully and don’t assume that just because a label says “organic” the food is automatically good for you – junk food made from organic ingredients can still be high in sugar and salt.
- http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/household-finances/is-organic-food- too-costly/article4401420/
- http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/natural-resources-environment/organic-agriculture/organic-market- overview.aspx
- http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/organic-food/art- 20043880?pg=2