Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Eating Healthy: Is Organic Produce Worth the Extra Cost?

Buying organic is a good way to cut your exposure to potentially harmful pesticides, but it can get expensive. So how can you save on organics?

According to ShopSmart, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, one way to save is to limit organic purchases to fruits and veggies that have the most dangerous pesticide residues when grown conventionally. These were formerly called the dirty dozen but a few more have been added to the list.
The worst of the bunch are listed below, in order of risk, based on a new analysis of government data by the nonprofit Organic Center. Produce with the lowest pesticide risk includes citrus fruits, bananas, pineapples and onions.

Riskiest Fruits: Buy These Organic
• Imported Grapes
• Cranberries
• Nectarines
• Peaches
• Strawberries
• Pears
• Apples
• Cherries
Riskiest Vegetables: Buy These Organic
• Green Beans
• Sweet Bell Peppers
• Celery
• Potatoes
• Tomatoes
• Peas
• Lettuce
Note that this list refers to US produce.

Some imported items have higher pesticide levels. The risk index score for an imported peach is almost 5 times that of a domestic peach; for sweet bell peppers, it’s nearly 5½ times as high. Other high-risk produce: imported grapes, nectarines, lettuce, and cucumbers. So you might want to skip those if you can find only imports. Also be wary of overseas organics, where regulatory oversight might not be as reliable.
The above information is courtesy of the September 2008 issue of ShopSmart.

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