Whether you are on a budget and need to prioritize your organic purchases, or you would simply like to know which type of produce has the highest pesticide residues and which have the least. The following guide from the Environmental Working Group will help you in deciding what fruits and vegetables “should” be purchased organic.
The “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15”
12 Most Contaminated – The Dirty Dozen
Sweet Bell Peppers
15 Least Contaminated – Clean 15
Why should you care about pesticides?
According to the Environmental Working Group, there is a growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during vulnerable periods such as fetal development and childhood. Pesticides are shown to be associated with a variety of health problems, including:
- Hormone disruption
- Abnormal brain and nervous system development
Andrew Weil, M.D., is a world-renowned expert in the field of integrative medicine. Here is a video in which Dr. Weil addresses the importance of avoiding pesticides.
Dr. Weil’s tips to make an organic diet more affordable:
Make a gradual transition over the course of a year to familiarize yourself with prices and products.
Comparison shop to find the most economical organic items. Within the same city, organic produce prices vary greatly. Sometimes the large supermarket chains will win out, while other times natural food stores (chains or privately-owned) can be more affordable. By shopping around, you’ll get a general idea for which foods are cheaper at certain stores, or which location offers the most deals overall.
Create your meal plans around the most affordable produce, meat and grain products.
Improvise recipes if an organic ingredient isn’t available or affordable. You might find something else that works just as well, or even better than the original ingredient.
Invest in organic meat, cheese and milk (over produce and grains) if your grocery budget is tight. Conventional meat and dairy products often contain hormones and show the highest concentration of pesticides.
Find local organic growers and buy directly to save money. Farmers markets often offer organic items.
Select seasonal produce as much as possible. If you want strawberries in winter, for example, buy frozen (or else your pocketbook will suffer). Frozen organic produce is often available at big warehouse stores as well.
Prioritize your produce. Certain produce items tend to be highly contaminated with pesticides (try to buy these organic), while others tend to be relatively low in pesticide residue (save money and buy these conventional.