Friday, November 14, 2008

Organic Food, Where To Spend, Or Not

We are all getting the message that organic food is a good choice. But we also know that organic food costs more, sometimes lots more. So now that we are all watching our pennies, lets review where to spend on organic, and where it doesn't matter as much.

It Matters
Apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach, and strawberries.
The USDA's own lab testing showed that even after washing, some foods carry much higher levels of pesticide residue than others. According to Consumer Reports, the "dirty dozen", as these fruits and veggies are known as, should be organic. Their conventional counterparts are high in pesticides. Worth the roughly 50 percent more you will pay in grocery stores, but as always, look for the source. Find your farmers.
Meat, poultry, eggs and dairy.
Just don't want those hormones and antibiotics in your systems.
Baby Food, always protect the little people, their developing systems are vulnerable.

It Matters Less
Although organic bananas taste better, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a D.C.-based research and advocacy organization, finds little residue on the conventional versions. Ditto, avocados, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, kiwi, mango, onions, papaya, pinapples and sweet peas. These can be much cheaper in conventional form, one way to save bucks if you don't have serious health issues.
Bread, oils, potato chips, pasta, cereals and other packaged foods.
Limited health value in organic form, processing washes away nutrients.

Don't Bother
Seafood, wild or farmed can be labeled organic despite the presence of contaminants like mercury and PCBs. Look to the valuable Seafood Watch that the Monterey Bay Aquarium puts out for advice on specific choices.
Cosmetics. Unless the product is primarily agricultural, like aloe vera gel, it's not worth the extra cost. Also, the USDA lets shampoos and body lotions to carry an organic label even when the main ingrediant is water. Check the EWG safety ratings for these products.

Thanks to Veri kleiner Winkel for a great photo.

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