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Does Organic Really Matter?

We all have been there- Whether it was walking down the produce aisle of our friendly neighborhood grocery store or picking up some fresh fruit and veggies at a cute roadside farmers market. We know organic is supposed to be better for us, so we reach for the produced labeled as so- and then glance at the price...

Okay, so maybe that's an exaggeration. Still, organic produce can be costly. For families trying to eat healthy on a budget, buying organic produce can be very stressful. Produce labeled as organic on average costs .24 cents more than conventional produce (not grown organically). It may not sound like much, but when you add that up, it can be the difference between buying nutrient-dense whole foods or low-cost nutrient deficient foods that we know are not good for us.

But how are we supposed to decide between organic produce or less expensive produce that may contain harmful pesticides?

There are a lot of benefits to buying organic produce. Let's look at the facts.

  • Conventionally grown produce can contain synthetic pesticides, chemical herbicides and even is sometimes grown in synthetic fertilizer.

  • These synthetic and chemical-based products can remain on produce and can be harmful to our health.

  • I do want to point out a common misconception about organic vs. conventionally grown produce. Organic produce may still contain pesticides in a much lower quantity. However, the pesticides used are natural.

  • Also, taking an organic approach to farming has been shown to help the environment!

BUT at the end of the day, the price of organic produce is something that not all of us can afford, and that is okay!

So how can I buy organic produce and not spend a ton of money?

Great question! When grocery shopping on a budget (like most of us), it is unrealistic to buy everything organic. However, there is a hack to knowing which produce is worth buying organic and which is not worth the money. Let me introduce you to the Environmental Working Group, or EWG. The EWG is a fantastic non-profit that aims to protect our environmental health by changing industry standards. Each year they come up with a list called "Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce." This list goes through popular conventionally grown produce and names the 12 foods with the most pesticides and the 15 cleanest (least pesticides). So basically, the goal is to buy organic if you plan to get produce from the dirty dozen list; and save money by buying conventionally grown produce from the clean fifteen lists. The EWG's 2021 list consists of:

Dirty Dozen

  1. Strawberries

  2. Spinach

  3. Kale, Collard & Mustard Greens

  4. Nectarines

  5. Apples

  6. Grapes

  7. Cherries

  8. Peaches

  9. Pears

  10. Bell & Hot Peppers

  11. Celery

  12. Tomatoes

Clean 15

  1. Avocados

  2. Sweet Corn

  3. Pineapple

  4. Onions

  5. Papaya

  6. Sweet Peas (frozen)

  7. Eggplant

  8. Asparagus

  9. Broccoli

  10. Cabbage

  11. Kiwi

  12. Cauliflower

  13. Mushrooms

  14. Honeydew Melon

  15. Cantaloupe

The EWG's guide to the Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen can be found here:

They even have a printout that you can cut and fit into your wallet to bring with you while at the store!

Our wallets and minds can all rest a little bit easier on our next grocery shopping trip!

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