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  • Writer's pictureDianna Carr

To buy organic or not to buy organic? That is the question.

Updated: Mar 15, 2022

Do you ever find yourself at the grocery store eyeing up the produce, comparing prices, and wondering the age-old question: is buying organic really worth it? First you may be thinking - what does the “organic” label really mean? According to the United States Department of Agriculture organic regulations, produce can be labeled “organic” if it’s certified to have grown in soil that has not been treated with most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides for the three years prior to harvest.

Next you may be thinking - o.k. that doesn’t sound great, but how many pesticides are really on the produce? Let’s take strawberries as an example. One carton is conventionally grown, the other is organic. Both sets of strawberries are bright red, juicy, and look delicious. Both are an excellent source of vitamin C and rich in antioxidants. Which do you choose? Well according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), non-organic strawberries contain an average of 7.8 different pesticides per sample and are at the top of EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list for 2021. Also on the list are:

  • spinach

  • kale, collard, and mustard greens

  • nectarines

  • apples

  • grapes

  • cherries

  • peaches

  • pears

  • bell and hot peppers

  • celery

  • tomatoes

EWG’s analysis determined that nearly 70 percent of non-organic produce in the U.S. contains potentially harmful chemical pesticides. Yikes! But don’t worry, not all produce rank high on the pesticide list. EWG also puts out a “Clean Fifteen” list which indicates the 15 crops with the lowest amounts of pesticide residues. This list includes:

  • avocados

  • sweet corn

  • pineapple

  • onions

  • papaya

  • frozen sweet peas

  • eggplant

  • asparagus

  • broccoli

  • cabbage

  • kiwi

  • cauliflower

  • mushrooms

  • honeydew melon

  • cantaloupe

So, what does all this mean? Basically, when contemplating if buying organic is really worth it, consider the following: if you have access to and can afford buying everything organic, great – go for it, if not, prioritize buying the produce listed on the “Dirty Dozen” list as organic to reduce you and your family’s exposure to harmful pesticides. EWG even provides a handy reference guide that you can print out and take to the grocery store.

Until next time…Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.



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