Where Should Your Organic Dollars Go?

It’s hard to know where to spend your precious organic dollars. Fortunately, Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) has just updated their Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce where they list the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen.” The Clean 15 are the least sprayed fruits and vegetables and therefore the safest bets if you want to skip organic. The Dirty Dozen are the 12 most heavily sprayed fruits and vegetables, so whenever possible, it’s best to buy these organic.

There are many reasons to avoid consumming pesticides, not the least of which is the often unknown impact of these chemicals on our health. According to an article on CNN Health, a recent study has found that “Kids with above-average levels of a common pesticide byproduct had twice ADHD risk.”

I’ll list the Dirty Dozen below, but the EWG has created a handy printable guide that will fit in your wallet. Click here to get it. Dr. Andrew Weil has come on board this year extolling the virtues of the Shopper’s Guide. You can watch a short video of his comments while you’re there if you’d like.

The Dirty Dozen – Buy these organic:

Celery
Peaches
Strawberries
Apples
Blueberries
Nectarines
Bell Peppers
Spinach
Kale
Cherries
Potatoes
Grapes (Imported)

One way we’re saving money is by growing some of our own. For example, this year we’re growing strawberries, potatoes and bell peppers from this list. Good luck with your organic shopping. Let me know if there’s anything I can help with.

Photo Credit: FoodNews.org

Eating Better: Organics

organic produce garden

This post is the second in a series about our attempts to eat better.

Organics are everywhere now it seems. If you’re unsure what to eat, but have heard that organic products are pesticide-free, it can be tempting to throw anything into your shopping cart with the word “organic” on it. That is, until you see the price. Organic products often come at a price premium. If you don’t have an unlimited budget, what should you do?

The key is to be selective in which organic products you buy. If you’re trying to eat better, as we are, it’s best to avoid as many processed foods as possible. Just because a pre-packaged processed food says “organic” on the box, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you. I love Michael Pollan’s line, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Pollan says “real food” is food your grandmother would recognize as food; he argues that if she wouldn’t recognize it, you shouldn’t eat it (think blue Gogurt, for example).

dirty dozen

Which brings us to whole foods, and that includes produce. I buy organic produce whenever possible, and if I can get it locally, even better. However, when it becomes cost prohibitive, I rely on the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides. There’s a handy printout at their website that lists “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15.” It tells us which types of produce are most heavily sprayed with pesticides and which are not.

One of the best ways to save money on organic produce is to grow your own. We started a square foot garden this year and it’s been a lot of fun — not to mention an inexpensive source of lots of fresh, organic vegetables that really don’t have very far to travel from plant to table.

So what have we been eating lately?

◊ More fresh fruits and vegetables. Many from the farmer’s market and from our garden, some from the grocery store. Some of it organic (see above). I’m trying to cut back on canned food, and sticking with fresh or frozen.

◊ Fewer processed and packaged foods. If you’re looking to find the money to pay for organic produce, start here. It’s amazing how much smaller my grocery bill is when I don’t buy all that stuff.

As I mentioned in the introductory post to this series, we aren’t “there” yet with eating as well as we possibly can, but we’re taking steps, a few at a time, and getting there. So far, it’s been fun, and worth it.