Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

If you read any magazine these days you can find articles about eating organic.  Although there is still some controversy (mostly from the big food industry) I think it is clear to everyone that we should stop eating pesticides in our foods.  Organic is a federally regulated claim that ensures that the foods are grown without pesticides and with sustainable farming practices.  You can read about food labeling here. (This site also tells you what claims mean nothing...like "free range" and "fresh"...) Sadly it is quite expensive to obtain organic designation, so many small farmers can't jump through the regulatory hoops.  If you can buy local, shop at your farmers market and ask them how they grow their crops and more than likely they do their best to limit pesticides.  I think local trumps big agriculture so go with them.

If you are going to buy from a regular store, it is indeed best to look for labeling to see what you are really eating.  Go for organic as much as you can.  Organic is more expensive than non-organic and sometimes the cost is just too much.  So what to do?  Enter the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) evaluates fruits and vegetables every year for pesticide residue and creates a list of the least to most contaminated. 

If you can't buy everything organic, at least buy the most contaminated foods in the organic designation.  The least contaminated produce you can eat the non-organic.  The EWG create a very nice little card that you can print out and stick in your wallet.  You can find it here as well as a wealth of other information. They also have an app that you can put on your phone.  With either of these you can reference it in the store so you can remember when to stick to organic. Remember, if something is on the list, it means for all products, not just fresh ones.  So strawberries means strawberry jam and strawberry ice cream, not just fresh ones. 

The list changes from year to year so it is good to get an update.  Pears were added to the Dirty Dozen this year.  (After I ate a ton of pears this winter...all not organic. Boo!)  Read about strawberries and you'll never eat another non-organic one.  It does take some effort as strawberries are everywhere when you eat out.  The Clean 15 tells you things that have little pesticide residue.  Be forewarned though that if you care about GMOs, you need to look for another designation. Most corn you can buy is GMO corn so if you want non-GMO you will need to buy organic even though it is on the Clean 15.  

I hope you find this helpful. I love the EWG guides.  Even though I pay attention, I usually forget what is on the list other than strawberries, apples and celery, things I always buy organic. Stick it in in your wallet or add it to your phone and you will be all set!