What Should You Buy Organic?

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Dirty dozen

Pop quiz: You’re on a limited budget (who isn’t?), but you want to buy organic produce. How do you know which vegetables and fruits you should buy organic vs. which are a-ok to shop conventional?

Our answer is the Environmental Working Group’s annual Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 lists, released today, which outline the produce with the most pesticides and greatest amount of pesticide residue, and those with the least.

Let’s start with dirty first:

  1. Strawberries (one sample had 22 pesticide residues on it—yikes)
  2. Spinach (on average, samples of this favorite had twice as much pesticide residue by weight when compared with any other crop—yikes again)
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Grapes
  6. Peaches
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Celery
  11. Potatoes
  12. Sweet bell peppers

The above are the items you want to get in the organic section. When you’re ready to save some money shopping conventional, reach for these:

  1. Avocados (yay! They’re expensive enough, amiright?)
  2. Sweet corn (caveat here: Most corn is GMO; if you’re avoiding GMOs, you’ll want to buy organic anyway)
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbages
  5. Onions
  6. Frozen Sweet Peas
  7. Papayas
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangoes
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Broccoli

High pesticide exposure has been linked to fertility problems in both women and men, as well as damage to children’s brains and nervous systems.

EWG analyzes tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to come up with its lists. The USDA tested thousands of produce samples and found 230 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on them. Nearly 70 percent of the samples of conventionally grown produce tested showed pesticide residue contamination. Washing and/or peeling may not rid your produce of all the residue, the EWG report notes.

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