Choosing healthy, fresh food can be a challenge, especially when it comes to selecting organic produce. More and more shoppers are becoming educated on the benefits of organic food, including more nutrient value, less pesticide contamination, and the overall ecological benefits of organic agriculture. However, organic produce is more expensive than conventional farming, and may be difficult to find in some areas.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has compiled the “Dirty Dozen,” a list of the most pesticide-contaminated produce. The EWG says that while the benefits of organic food can be applied to all produce, it is most important to choose organic for these twelve foods:
- Nectarines (imported)
- Grapes (imported)
- Sweet bell peppers
- Blueberries (domestic)
- Kale/collard greens
These foods are the most likely to be contaminated by pesticides. If even twelve foods are too hard to buy organic, the three worst offenders are apples, celery, and strawberries. The EWG stresses that the benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables, even if conventionally farmed, outweigh the risks of pesticide contamination.
The Dirty Dozen are susceptible to contamination because their soft skin is more likely to absorb pesticides. On the other end of the spectrum of the Clean 15, the fifteen foods with the lowest pesticide counts:
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas
- Cantaloupe (domestic)
- Sweet potatoes
By using theses guides, consumers can make more-educated choices about the fruits and vegetables they serve their families, which will lead to more healthy meal planning.
- “EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce”, Environmental Working Group
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