Friday, April 10, 2009

Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen

Many people would like to buy organic produce but find it prohibitively expensive. I often agree--a few days ago I found bulk organic almonds for $11 per pound next to conventional almonds for $4 per pound! I value buying organic more than your average consumer, but I just can't justify paying 200% more for the same product grown free of pesticides. Luckily, most markups on organic foods aren't nearly that high. But there are still good reasons to know which produce is most affected by pesticides and which is (mostly) clean. The Environmental Working Group has created a list of 47 common fruits and vegetables, tested for pesticide levels. I was shocked at how many chemicals are in many conventional foods, but not all of them are quite so bad. For those times when organic is looking more difficult, keep these lists in mind.

Keep in mind: these lists reflect "bad/good" veggies in terms of pesticide presence (and human health by association), but they do not take the externalities of conventional farming into account. Organic farming has many positive effects on soil erosion and quality, nitrogen fixation, and reducing nutrient depletion that don't come along with conventional farming. I still would advocate for consumers to buy organic and local as much as possible. Go to your neighborhood farmer's market! The earth will thank you, as will your pesticide-free body.

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