Let’s face it, buying organic can get expensive and with so many conflicting views it’s hard to know if spending more money on food guarantees a higher quality product.To help solve this problem, The Environmental Working Group released the 2011 Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce. After analyzing 89,000 tests conducted from 2000 to 2008 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Food and Drug Administration, EWG developed a guideline for which fruits and vegetables contain the highest amount of pesticides and therefore should be bought organic and which are the least hazardous to your health.
While the report emphasizes “the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure” it goes on to separate them into two categories—Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen—to help reduce your intake of harmful substances.
If you’re going to buy organic, you should start with the following fruits and vegetables from the “Dirty Dozen” list:
12. Kale/collard greens 11. Lettuce 10. Blueberries (domestic) 9. Potatoes 8. Sweet bell peppers 7. Grapes (imported) 6. Nectarines (imported) 5. Spinach 4. Peaches 3. Strawberries 2. Celery
And the most contaminated piece of produce, eaten daily by children and adults alike, is… Apples!
The vegetables least likely to test positive for pesticides are onions, sweet corn, asparagus, sweet peas, eggplant, cabbage, sweet potatoes and mushrooms. The fruits are pineapples, avocados, mangoes, domestic cantaloupe, kiwi, watermelon and grapefruit.