The perception amongst the general public is that buying organic is better. Better for our bodies, for the planet, and for the workers who cultivate the fruits and vegetables we eat every day. But why is it better? In a word – pesticides. While the United States government sets limits on how much of this stuff can be sprayed on our food before it becomes unfit for consumption, I’m of the school of thought that the less, the better. Pesticides are, after all, chemicals used to kill bugs and keep other organisms at bay. Chemicals layered on top of clean, wholesome food just doesn’t sit well with me.
But, alas, buying organic produce can be super pricey – especially if you’re juicing often and going through pounds of fruits and veggies every week. The good news is that each year, the non-profit agency Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a list of the worst offenders in terms of residue. Dubbed ‘The Dirty Dozen,’ this list includes the fruits and veggies that we should be shelling out extra cash for and buying organic. I find that carrying this list with me to the grocery store is immensely helpful. Not only do I save some money on the items that I can get away with buying conventional, but I can more easily plan out my meals and juices.
Below is the most recent ‘Dirty Dozen’ list for 2013. Take a look and see if some of your favorites are on the list. If so, seek out purveyors who grow organic produce or even ask your local grocer to carry more organic options. Chances are, others in your community are looking for the same healthy options for their families too.
Dirty Dozen 2013
Apples – Number one on the list for a while now, these almost always test positive for pesticide residue. Good news is that organic ones are generally easy to come by.
Strawberries – Buy organic cartons of this fresh fruit when it’s in season in the summer. Not only will they be better for you, but they’ll be tastier, too.
Grapes – Based on the research conducted, one single grape tested positive for no fewer than 15 pesticides. Ew.
Celery – Since celery doesn’t really have any skin to protect itself, it tends to be sprayed extra heavily.
Peaches – Usually imported, peaches rank 5th on the list
Spinach – After a bout of e.coli from infected spinach last year, I always buy organic no matter what. I advise you do the same.
Sweet Bell Peppers – The good news is that bell peppers pack a lot of flavor in a small amount so just buy 1-2 organic ones per week to add a shot of nutrients and color to your juices.
Nectarines – Similar story to peaches.
Cucumber – As a staple in any juice heads’ fridge, make sure you go organic with cucumbers.
Potatoes – This one is surprising. Try to not only buy organic, but also choose Sweet Potatoes for higher nutrient value.
Cherry Tomatoes – These are best bought at a local Farmers’ Market in the summer, or grow your own tomatoes!
Hot Peppers – Another surprising member of the Dirty Dozen, organic peppers may be hard to come by in a conventional grocery store. Get them at your local Farmers Market if possible.
Photo credit: Tanya Hall