Health + Wellness

Clean Eating

August 8, 2017

When is buying organic worth it?

Last Saturday Dan, Audrey and I went out to do some shopping for our upcoming family photo session. While we were out we decided to get groceries, but we ran into the issue of needing some toiletries, like shaving cream and baby wipes, as well as fruit, vegetables, milk, bread, etc. So we bought the toiletries and pantry items at Target and went next door to the Earth Fare (organic) grocery store. I don’t like buying produce, meat, dairy and other fresh foods at big box stores like Walmart and Target because I don’t think the quality is very good. However, I don’t like buying toiletries and non-grocery items at the grocery store because they’re usually more expensive. So sometimes I end up having to go to two different stores. Am I the only one who does this? It’s inconvenient but sometimes necessary.

While I unloaded the Target items, Dan took Audrey to the organic grocery store and met me at the car afterward. As we were leaving he told me the sweet potatoes he bought were $10 for three potatoes! My jaw hit the floor! That started us talking/venting about the value of food and when buying organic makes financial sense.

Food is expensive. That’s not news to anyone. So what do we do when we want to eat healthy and be healthy on a budget? When does it really make sense to buy organic fruits and vegetables at a higher price point versus non-organic?

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit, recommends going organic on the “dirty dozen” — types of produce that are most susceptible to pesticide residue:

DIRTY DOZEN
  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Grapes
  10. Spinach
  11. Potatoes
  12. Tomatoes
CLEAN 15

When is organic produce not worth the added expense? The EWG lists these 15 items as having the least pesticide residues:

  1. Papayas
  2. Cabbage
  3. Kiwi
  4. Eggplant
  5. Honeydew
  6. Grapefruit
  7. Cantaloupe
  8. Cauliflower
  9. Sweet peas (frozen)
  10. Asparagus
  11. Mangoes
  12. Pineapple
  13. Sweet corn
  14. Avocados
  15. Onions
Reduce Pesticide Residues

Regardless of whether or not you buy organic, you can reduce pesticide residues on foods by:

  • Washing and scrubbing produce under streaming water to remove dirt, bacteria and surface pesticide residues, even produce with inedible skins such as cantaloupe. Do not use soap.
  • Removing the peel from fruits and vegetables.
  • Removing the outer leaves of leafy vegetables.
  • Trimming visible fat and skin from meat and poultry because pesticide residues can collect in fat.
  • Eating a variety of foods from different sources.
  • Joining a co-op farm that supports community agriculture.

It’s important to eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible, whether they’re organic or not. You’re still better off eating a sweet potato than potato chips. If you can’t remember which fruits and vegetables are better for you if they’re organic, ask yourself if you eat the outside of the produce as well as the inside. If so, you’re likely better off buying organic. However, if the produce has a thick skin, peel or shell, you’re probably fine buy non-organic.

Joie de vivre and colorful produce,

Heather

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