- Leanne Beattie SparkPeople
Step into any supermarket these days and you’re sure to find a wide variety of organic foods on the shelves. From produce, milk and meat to breakfast cereals and snack foods, consumers have their pick of certified organic products—a far cry from the time when you could only find them in natural foods stores. The demand for organic foods continues to soar: According to the Organic Trade Association, organic food sales saw their biggest dollar gain ever in 2015 with more than 10 percent growth.
Certified organic foods have been linked to many heath benefits, but they can sometimes be more expensive than conventionally farmed produce. Try these tips to make an organic diet more affordable.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently completed an analysis of conventionally grown (non-organic) produce to measure pesticide residue levels. Based on the results of almost 34,000 samples taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and federal Food and Drug Administration, EWG estimates that eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, referred to as “The Dirty Dozen,” exposes the average person to about 15 different pesticides each day, while someone eating the least contaminated will be exposed to fewer than two pesticides each day. By avoiding these most contaminated foods, consumers could reduce their pesticide exposure by almost 90 percent.
If you have budget constraints, get more health for your money by choosing organic varieties of the following fruits and vegetables (listed in descending order, starting with greatest levels of pesticide contamination). Download a pocket guide to the Dirty Dozen here.
If going totally organic is too difficult or pricey, play it safe and eat the following conventional produce items to minimize your exposure. These are known to have the least amount of pesticide residue (listed in ascending order, starting with lowest levels of contamination):
When eating conventional foods, be certain to peel away edible skins and outer leaves (such as those on lettuce), as pesticides are often concentrated there. Remember to wash all produce (conventional and organic) thoroughly with a natural fruit and vegetable cleanser. Peeling and washing can help reduce (not eliminate) pesticide exposure, but can also cause the loss of valuable vitamins and nutrients, such as fiber.
When you have the choice between an organic item and one that’s conventionally grown, choose organic as often as possible. To see EWG's complete study results and the rankings of different produce items, visit their website.