Every trip to the grocery store begins with the same internal debate: should I spend $6.99 on a carton of organic strawberries, or settle for the $3.99 conventional ones? While the budget-focused side (read: shopaholic side that wants a new fall wardrobe) of our brain is pushing to cut corners wherever possible, the practical side is insisting on thinking about the longer-term benefits of buying organic. Fact: Research shows the benefits of organic food consumed over a lifetime, outweighs the cost of the conventional variety, but what about the long-term effects on our wallet? A few extra dollars added to every grocery bill is bound to add up to quite the hefty sum over a lifetime. But what if it isn’t essential we buy everything organic? What if there’s an outlined list of items you must buy organic, taking the cheaper route on the rest?
Enter: The Dirty Dozen. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes an annual rating of conventional foods with the most pesticide residues. This informs us budget-friendly shoppers of the most effective ways we can reduce pesticides in our diet, without having to splurge on the higher-priced option every time.
The EWG highlighted twelve fruits and veggies that tested positive for the most amount of pesticide residue compared to other produce items. This list includes apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas, and potatoes. Furthermore, all samples of imported nectarines and 99% of apples tested positive for pesticide residue, potatoes had more pesticides by weight than any other item, and a single grape contained 15 pesticides. That’s gross, guys. Suddenly that new fall wardrobe doesn’t seem as important.
And what about the other produce on your shopping list? You’re welcome to skimp on the conventional ones. The EWG’s Clean Fifteen is a list of fruits and veggies that are least likely to hold pesticide residues. This list includes avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.
So there you have it. Next time you’re at the grocery store, leave the debate behind because when it comes to the Dirty Dozen, going the cheap route really isn’t an option when buying produce that’s covered in pretty scary stuff. And if you still can’t spend the extra dough on organic items? Well, you can always add the dirty dozen items all together and restrict your diet to include only those on the Clean Fifteen. Sound good?
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