The benefits of eating organic are myriad. Supporting organic farming means soil is healthier, farm workers are safer and the consumer gets food that isn’t contaminated with pesticide residues.

The benefits of eating organic are myriad. Supporting organic farming means soil is healthier, farm workers are safer and the consumer gets food that isn’t contaminated with pesticide residues.


For most people, though, an all-organic diet would be both expensive and impractical. If you’re concerned about your food but your grocery budget and shopping options are limited, take heart. The Environmental Working Group recently updated its handy Shopper's Guide, which assists consumers by helping us avoid the most contaminated foods and prioritize which organic produce is really worth the money.


The “dirty dozen” are the fruits and vegetables that were found to contain the most pesticide residues according to recent testing by the USDA. Apples now top the list of the worst offenders, and strawberries were found to contain 13 types of pesticide residues. According to the EWG, you can significantly lower your pesticide intake just by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables.


Remember though: Don’t stop eating your fruits and veggies! Whether conventional or organic, it’s healthier to eat produce than processed foods. The EWG emphasizes that “the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.” 


Of course, washing and scrubbing fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water will help remove some chemical residues, as well as dirt and bacteria. But not all pesticides can be removed by washing. Peeling can remove some residues, but you may miss out on nutrients in the peel.


The dirty dozen: Buy these organic:


Apples


Celery


Strawberries


Peaches


Spinach


Nectarines (imported)


Grapes (imported)


Sweet bell peppers


Potatoes


Blueberries (domestic)


Lettuce


Kale/collard greens


The clean 15: Lowest in pesticide residues:


Onions


Sweet corn


Pineapples


Avocado


Asparagus


Peas


Mango


Eggplant


Cantaloupe (domestic)


Kiwi


Cabbage


Watermelon


Sweet potatoes


Grapefruit


Mushrooms