Which foods should you buy organic?

"Organic Shmorganic. It's nothing more than an expensive fad. I can't afford to buy organic fruits and vegetables."

Does this sound like you or someone you know?

The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization that ranks fruits and vegetables by their levels of pesticide residue, put together a simple list of the most and least contaminated produce so you can decide which foods are best to purchase organic and which aren't as necessary.

New to the EWG's 2012 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which was released last month, are two extra foods added to the "Dirty Dozen" in a new "Plus" category. These foods (green beans and leafy greens, kale and collard greens) didn't meet the criteria of the Dirty Dozen list but are commonly contaminated with insecticides that are highly toxic to the nervous system.

To reduce your intake of pesticides, buy the organic varieties of the items on the Dirty Dozen Plus list. I often hear people protest that buying organic is too expensive, but I'm telling you that if you buy the items on this list from your local farmers market or while they're in season (or when they're on sale!), they won't cost much more than the conventional variety. To determine whether or not the produce at your grocery store is organic, look at the number on the sticker (this is called the price look-up code, or "PLU code"). A number starting with "9" indicates that the food is organic. A number starting with anything else means that it's not organic.

If you have a smart phone, you can download the "Dirty Dozen" app for free! It's a terrific resource to refer to while you're doing your grocery shopping.

Dirty Dozen Plus (highest in pesticide, buy these organic):

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries (domestic)
  12. Potatoes

PLUS (May contain pesticide residues of special concern):

  • Green Beans
  • Kale & Collard Greens

Clean Fifteen (lowest in pesticide, okay to buy non-organic):

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Eggplant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  12. Sweet Potatoes
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Watermelon
  15. Mushrooms

Source: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/