Buying organic produce seems to be the hot topic of the moment — and for good reason. When you purchase something that has the green USDA-certified organic label on it, you know that the food was grown and harvested with minimal pesticides and following strict regulations, meaning that it's better for you — and usually tastes better, too. The problem is that organic fruits and vegetables usually cost more than conventional ones (those that don’t have this certification), making eating purely organic quite expensive. But all is not lost.
For those of you looking to make smarter purchasing choices, the Environmental Working Group has created a list called the 'Dirty Dozen,’ consisting of foods that you should buy organic over anything else because they have the highest level of toxins when grown conventionally. (EWG also lists the 'Clean 15’ that highlights the foods with the lowest level of pesticides.)
So should everything else purchased be conventional? Well, if you want, but you can also learn to make better choices. We spoke to Kim Barnouin, co-author of the best-selling Skinny Bitch books, about eating organic. In her latest book, Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook, she dedicates a large section to the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15, as well as focuses on the benefits of eating organically. Why? Because she thinks that people believe it’s too expensive to eat organic and that it can’t be done where they live, so this list was meant to show them that not everything has to be organic.
What should you walk away from this article with? Barnouin suggests buying locally and seasonally first and utilizing your local market, "because most local farmers don't spray their foods anyway, just talk to them and ask." (While most stands at the farmers' market don’t have the USDA-certified organic seal, this is often because it’s very expensive to become certified and maintain that certification.) Then, still paying mind to the seasons, Barnouin says to shop organically when possible (especially for items on this list), and then buy conventional products. It makes sense — if strawberries are in season, then why would you purchase a box of strawberries that came from Chile instead of the berries that were grown 20 miles away? (Odds are, they will probably taste better and be better for you.) Barnouin adds that “when you’re buying from other countries the costs will be higher, and they pick it when it’s not ripe, so it won’t taste good anyway.”
Try starting with the products on this list, then checking the EWG website to see their updated lists and even the ratings for the top 30 foods if you're looking to be even more selective in your organic purchases. Good luck and happy eating!