The grocery store can be an intimidating experience. I always want to get in and get out. Find some good deals, but spend my money on products I believe come sustainable companies and responsible producers.
When it comes to our food, many of us are likely to pick up something more natural or labeled “organic.” It’s undoubtedly a part of this crazy fad, with so many items being branded as “all natural” or “gluten free”, but to be organic is something entirely different from “all natural,” and really all of these products seem to be more expensive than the conventional ones or generic brands.
Actually according to Consumer Reports, in a comparison of 100 product pairings, organic foods averaged to be 47 percent more expensive. Though this was a giant range and sometimes organic foods can actually be the cheaper option, too often at our local grocery store I find that is not the case. I decided I needed to determine what I should be paying more for in the produce section and where I can save some money if I am actually concerned about pesticide residue on my fruits and veggies.
The Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides has identified fruits and veggies that have the highest and lowest pesticide residues. Known as the “Dirty Dozen,” 2016’s list has a new number one fruit that has tested highest for pesticide residue; strawberries. Previously apples had held this number one spot for the last few years, but in this year’s testing 98 percent of nearly all strawberry samples tested had pesticide residue detected.
So why’s this matter? While most of these chemicals that have been tested are relatively benign, pesticide companies are not required to disclose the chemicals they put in their formulas because of “trade secrets.” Some of these chemicals detected, while not all, are actually linked to cancer. Therefore consumption of fruits and vegetables with high pesticide residue could be potentially harmful to humans, and that’s not a risk we are all willing to take.
So the EWG published this list and these are the following 12 foods, the dirty dozen, you should consider spending a little extra to buy organic:
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
The list actually continues, but these are the top 12 fruits and vegetables found to have the most pesticide residue, hence the title dirty dozen.
I know what you’re thinking- I wash my apples and strawberries! Here’s the thing, the testing takes into consideration that these fruits and vegetables are going to be eaten. So they wash those berries and apples and they even peel the bananas when completing these tests.
EWG also publishes a list called the “Clean Fifteen,” foods with very little pesticide contamination and you should totally feel comfortable buying conventionally at the grocery store!
The list is as follows:
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas (Frozen)
- Honeydew Melon
I would still wash these fruits and vegetables, as conventionally they were sprayed with pesticides, but I think saving your money on these specific fruit and vegetables and not splurging on organic types is a smart move.
EWG has put together a fantastic FAQ that everyone should check out if they have any questions about pesticide residues, information on organic products and everything in between.