Everyone agrees: eating fruits and vegetables is much better than not eating fruits and vegetables because you can’t buy organic. Still, organic produce is usually more expensive. If you’re on a tight budget and don’t have the luxury of buying all organic, how do you get the biggest organic bang for your buck?
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy organization based in the United States. The EWG analyzes pesticide studies and ranks contamination on 50 of the most popular fruits and vegetables in the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides.
The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides makes it easier to decide what to buy organic. “The Dirty Dozen” are the 12 most contaminated fruits and veggies according to the EWG analysis, so you may want to consider buying these organic if you can:
• bell peppers
• grapes (imported)
“The Clean 15” are fruits and vegetables that are likely to have little contamination, so you may want to buy non-organic types of these foods if cost is an issue:
• sweet corn
• sweet peas
• sweet potato
• honeydew melon
You can see how the EWG ranked 50 fruits and vegetables on the group’s Full List page.
Some other tips if you want to include more organic food in your diet:
- Don’t rush into buying all your groceries organic. Buying certified-organic cookies on a whim just because they’re organic could add up to be expensive. Stretch your dollars by buying organic produce while you figure out your organic grocery budget.
- Most large supermarkets carry some organic foods. Become familiar with what your supermarket has, inquire about whether today’s prices are typical or whether they fluctuate, and see what the differences are. Bring the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists to see what produce stores carry organic.
- Consider food co-ops, if there is one in your area. Co-ops often feature local and organic produce. You can search for a food co-op near you.
- Shop at farmers’ markets. Farmers from your area are selling their products directly to you and can answer any questions you have. Farmers may or may not be certified organic, but they can tell you about their farming methods. Some farmers’ markets accept WIC vouchers and SNAP benefits. Search for farmers’ markets near you at the Local Harvest website or at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s site, which also allows you to search for markets that accept WIC and SNAP benefits.