2013 Dirty Dozen List

applesI used to wander the aisles of the grocery store trying to decide whether I should buy the organic grapes and conventionally grown oranges or vice versa. At the time I didn’t think I could afford to buy all organic, so wanted to spend wisely, buying organic produce for the fruits and vegetables most saturated with pesticides.   My family’s health was my primary consideration in those days, I didn’t understand that pesticides and herbicides were negative for other reasons–like the health of soil, and overall health of the planet.  But it was a starting place, my starting place–and a good and reasonable one for one trying to enter the realm of organic without being overwhelmed.

To help folks out, every year the Environmental Working Group publishes a list of the twelve fruits and vegetables you should avoid eating unless they are grown organically. The EWG is the nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization. Their mission is get accurate facts about food and other environmental issues to ordinary people so they can make informed choices, and through information and advocacy, to help shape government policy. Their results on the Dirty Dozen are based on pesticide residue found on produce in grocery stores. But also hear this. They also say:

…the health benefits of a a diet high in fruits and vegetables outweight the risks of pesticide exposure.

So don’t substitute potato chips for potatoes and fruit roll-ups for strawberries to avoid pesticides in fruits and vegetables! Likely those are full of herbicides and pesticides as well anyway, and a host of other sugars, fats and chemicals as well.

Here’s the Dirty Dozen for 2013, and a couple others on the “plus” list that the EWG recommend buying organic because, while not quite meeting the criteria for the dirty dozen, still have pesticide residues you’d want to avoid:

Apples (#1 3rd year in a row)
Cherry Tomatoes
Hot peppers
Nectarines (imported)
Sweet Bell Peppers

And on the plus list:
Zucchini and Yellow Crookneck
Collards & Kale

The EWG also publishes a Clean Fifteen list–fruits and vegetables that tend to be pesticide free if you are choosing between what to purchase organically, and what to buy conventionally. These include:

Sweet Corn
Sweet peas (frozen)
Sweet Potatoes

One alternative to having to keep this list handy to check every time you grocery shop is to join a CSA that grows food naturally or organically. That way you eat locally grown food and learn the seasonal cycles of fruits and vegetables. And avoid troubling produce altogether.

How you have made choices around organic or conventional produce selection? A few of you have let me know you’ve tried leaving comments in the past and being blocked by my “Are You Human” test. I tried updating that–so try again, and if you are still having troubles, contact me and let know and I’ll keep working on it. Thanks!

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