To buy organic or not to buy organic – that’s the question you’ve probably asked yourself many times. On one hand, you don’t want to eat foods that may be contaminated with toxic chemicals and pesticides. On the other, eating all organic can quickly break the weekly grocery budget. So what should you do?
A great place to start would be to understand which foods you actually need to eat organic. Some foods, especially those with a soft outer “shell” like grapes, tend to absorb and retain pesticides even when washed. Other foods, like sweet corn, show less pesticide residue when tested.
To help you make decisions about how to spend your grocery dollars, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has created a guide for buying organic and conventionally grown produce.
The Dirty Dozen™ list contains the top 12 conventionally grown foods with the highest amount of pesticides. You should purchase these foods organic when possible:
The Clean 15™ list contains the top 15 conventionally grown foods with the lowest pesticide residues. Buy these foods non-organic to save money:
Whether the fruits and vegetables you buy are conventional or organic, make sure you wash and rinse them thoroughly before eating. [Article updated on May 29, 2015 to reflect EWG's 2015 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™]