With summer coming up soon, (feels like it’s already here with this crazy hot weather) we’re probably going to be eating more fruits and vegetables. Something about the warm weather and a fresh bowl of fruit or raw veggies just goes together. I know I could eat a whole watermelon, cut in half with a spoon and be happy as a clam.
Buying all organic can be expensive and I never suggest doing so as I know it’s not very cost effective. I do try to buy organic produce when I can, especially if it’s on sale because who doesn’t love a good sale. (I’ll actually usually buy multiples of something if it’s on sale, so I end up spending more at that time. Oops.) When I do buy organic produce, I try to follow the dirty dozen and clean fifteen list. This list is determined by The Environmental Working Group. Every year, they go through all conventional fruits and vegetables and determine which have the most pesticides and which have the least.
A little background on pesticides; they’re used to control pests on crops, so they aren’t ruined and farmers aren’t losing out. BUT they don’t just affect pests, they affect humans, wildlife, and our soil quality too. Some are so harmful that they’re killing wildlife and severely impacting humans causing respiratory issues, digestive issues and in severe cases can be a factor in getting cancer. Even if it’s small, why not make that change to help benefit your health? Every little effort helps!!
This year, these were the EWG’s findings;
- Strawberries - Sweet bell peppers
- Spinach - Potatoes
- Nectarines - Celery
- Apples - Tomatoes
- Grapes - Pears
- Peaches - Cherries
- Avocados - Broccoli
- Sweet corn - Mangoes
- Pineapples - Eggplant
- Cabbage - Honeydew melon
- Onions - Kiwi
- Frozen sweet peas - Cantaloupe
- Papayas - Cauliflower
This is the third year in a row that strawberries and spinach have been top two with strawberries having 22 different residues found (gross). People often think that giving produce a quick rinse with water gets rid of all the yucky stuff, but it doesn’t. Most of those pesticides have already penetrated the produce and is now under the skin too. If you’re not sure if something should be bought organic or not, look at if it has a thin or thick skin. Something like apples or peppers that have a thin skin are easily penetrated whereas pineapple or avocados have a thick skin. Of course there are exceptions to everything, so this trick doesn't necessarily apply to all produce.
Don’t freak out if you sometimes buy strawberries that aren’t organic. Stressing about it is only going to do more harm that good. Just be aware and cautious when buying produce. Sticking to this list can be helpful and save money because you know what can be bought conventional.
Some tips and tricks I use are;
- Buying local (it’s farmers market season and you can usually find great organic produce for cheaper than a regular grocery store, plus, you’re supporting local farmers!)
- Costco (they’re really good for organic greens and some veggies)
- Going directly to farms (every summer I go to berry farms, buy flats and then freeze them. It’s more cost effective than buying small quantities multiple times)
- Sales sales sales (like a said above, I love and can’t resist a good sale. Look at your local grocery stores flyers and usually organic produce will go on sale every week. Use whatever is on sale as a chance to make a new recipe!
Use this list as a tool when you’re grocery shopping next and try to stick to it, but it’s not the end of the world if you eat a conventional pepper!! Small, baby steps lead to consistent and steady change.