In a perfect world, we could all eat organic food all of the time. But here's what you should do when you can't eat organic all of the time!
Sometimes you're in an area where organics are harder to find. Other times, organics may be cost prohibitive. So what should you do in these situations?
First, you should know that an organization called the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) maintains two lists of produce called the Dirty Dozen Plus and the Clean Fifteen. (They also have a phone app with this information - terrific to have on hand when you are shopping.) EWG ranks fruits and vegetables based on the pesticide residues found on them.
EWG ranks fruits and vegetables using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which in 2013 (most recent data) found 165 different pesticides on fruit and vegetable samples. It’s important to know that pesticides remained on fruits and vegetables tested by USDA, even when they were washed and, in some cases, peeled.
A study at the University of Washington found that people who report they "often or always" buy organic produce had significantly less organophosphate insecticides in their urine samples, even though they reported eating 70 percent more servings of fruits and vegetables per day than adults reporting they "rarely or never" purchase organic produce (Curl 2015). Several long-term studies have indicated that organophosphate insecticides may impair children’s brain development.
So without further ado, here is EWG's current Dirty Dozen Plus: apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, snap peas, spinach, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, plus hot peppers, and kale and collard greens.