To Buy or Not to Buy Organic Produce?

Organic.  It’s a word that gets thrown around but many don’t know what it exactly means.  The U.S. Agriculture Department, which oversees the U.S. National Organic Program, states, “Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” The certified-organic label is not an indicator of nutritional superiority.  (Washington Post)

Check out the full article from the Washington Post which delves in to the differences between organic and non-organic produce.

There is a list from The Environmental Working Group that ranks popular produce items from the highest containing pesticides to the lowest.  The list is broken out to the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.  The produce was tested after it was thoroughly washed and these results are based on the remaining pesticides.  The complete list can be found at (

Dirty Dozen:

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Necterines (imported)
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Snap Peas
  • Potatoes

Clean Fifteen

  • Avocados
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapple
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet Peas-Frozen
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwi
  • Egg Plant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Honeydew Melon

My take away:  Be sure that whether you are buying organic or conventional produce to thoroughly wash the produce under cool running water and dry with a clean paper towel.  This can help reduce the amount of pesticides on your conventional produce and make sure that your organic produce is properly cleaned.  I would also say it’s better for you to purchase conventional produce than no produce at all.  The risks associated with not consuming enough fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of consuming produce that have been treated with pesticides.  If you can afford it, try to purchase the dirty dozen fruits and veggies organic.  Also, get to know your farmer.  Many farmers have organic practices but cannot afford (or choose not) to be labeled organic.  By getting to know your farmers, you can know more about the nutritious fruits and veggies you are consuming.

Bottom line:  Strive for your 5 a day of fruits and veggies.


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