Why you don’t need to always buy organic produce

Although organic produce is said to have less pesticides and more antioxidants than conventional, its not always affordable (or necessary) to buy all organic all the time. I started looking into this when I was a student at the University of San Francisco. I cared about my health and wanted to eat as few pesticides as possible, at the same time, I was on a budget and wondered if some of the produce I was buying was overpriced for no reason. Did I really need to venture to whole foods to pay double the price for a mango that I was going to peel anyway?

I was glad to learn that the answer is “not necessarily”  I discovered a report that took all the guesswork out of whether there were toxic pesticides lurking in my food. The Environmental Working Group is a non profit that tests conventional produce each year and reports on which foods are safe to eat and have the fewest number of pesticides, called The Clean 15, and also the foods that have the highest number of pesticide residue, called The Dirty Dozen.

It turns out that some fruits and vegetables have few or no pesticides to begin with. So why pay more for an organic label? On the flip side, other produce has as many as four different pesticide residues and should definitely be purchased organic.

You can take note of the items for each list and decide where to splurge and where to save during your next trip to the supermarket or farmers market:

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 2.18.17 PM

The list is updated every year so you can look at the EWG site for updates or to download the list to your smart phone.

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