Thursday, April 28

A Penny Pincher’s Guide to Buying Organic

I always try to do the right thing.

I hold the door for people behind me. I don’t interrupt when someone’s speaking. I say “please” and “thank you.” I eat my veggies and fruit. I work out.

But what happens when doing the right thing, like buying organic produce, is really, really expensive. Then what?

I’m conflicted on this topic. Take milk for example. A gallon of regular skim milk costs $2.88 at Costco. A gallon of Organic Lowfat Milk is $6. My family guzzles about three gallons of milk a week. So I could either spend $18/week or a little under $9.

I choose $9.

If money were no object I would buy all organic products. But until I win the lottery I have to be picky about what I’m willing to pay for and what I’m not. For me, organic milk doesn’t make the cut.

What about fruits and vegetables? I know there are some I should buy organic, but which ones?

Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has put together two lists to help me figure it out.

Below are 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest amount of pesticides on them. They suggest buying the organic version of these. If you can’t afford to even the EWG recommends buying the conventional version because not eating them at all is far worse than any damage caused by leftover pesticides.

Produce high in pesticides. Buy organic versions of these if you can.
1.              Celery
2.              Peaches
3.              Strawberries
4.              Apples
5.              Blueberries
6.              Nectarines
7.              Bell Peppers
8.              Spinach
9.              Kale
10.           Cherries
11.           Potatoes
12.           Grapes (imported)

Next are 15 fruits and vegetables with minimal levels of pesticides. Don’t waste your money on organic versions of these. The conventional products are fine.

1.              Onion
2.              Avocado
3.              Sweet Corn
4.              Pineapple
5.              Mango
6.              Sweet Peas
7.              Asparagus
8.              Kiwi
9.              Cabbage
10.           Eggplant
11.           Cantaloupe
12.           Watermelon
13.           Grapefruit
14.           Sweet Potato
15.           Honeydew Melon

For more information visit EWG’s web site.

There you can download a pdf of these lists or their free iPhone app so you’ll have the information when you need it. In the grocery store!

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