Sustainability Tip of the Week: Organic… or not?

These days, almost everything in the grocery store is offered in a conventional (meaning non-organic) and organic versions. However, buying all organic can become pricy, so it’s important to know which food items are best to purchase organic. After examining pesticide residue testing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) ranked fresh domestic and imported produce based on how much residue was found on each. These rankings are called The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen. The Dirty Dozen is the top 12 produce items containing the most pesticide residue. These items include: apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. Kale, collard greens and hot peppers are not in the top 12, but were often found to have insecticides toxic to the human nervous system, so these should be purchased organic as well. The Clean Fifteen are the 15 produce items that are non-organic but safe to buy: avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Check out the EWG’s 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce at ewg.org/foodnews for more information.

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