Tag Archives: organic

Buying Healthy Produce…


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Sometimes we need to make decisions that we don’t always want to make.  For instance, I would love nothing better than to buy organic fruits and veggies all the time, but sometimes the kids need a new pair of shoes…or maybe the money is earmarked for tuition or braces.  Irregardless of those needs being necessary or just nice, there are times when I must watch my budget more than usual.  Instead of being forced to not buy something because it is too expensive, I now make some of those purchasing decisions by factoring in some already known data about produce.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has compiled an amazing website that very easily lays out the chemical analysis of every single thing you wanted to know about. Do you ever sit and wonder about what may be in your kids’ favorite cereal, or the sun protection that they regularly wear?  Do you worry about what is inside your make-up, or laundry detergent? Then I am glad to tell you that EWG.org is THE place to go for the information you need. They have consumer guides to cover food, personal products, filtered water, cleaning products, and anything else that may be keeping you up at night. My new favorites on the EWG website are their Clean 15 and their Dirty Dozen lists.  If you are armed with the basic information from both of these groups, you can be assured of spending your money wisely.  

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The Clean 15 are 15 specific items of produce that do not test positive for dangerous amounts of chemicals, so they deem them better than other produce.  In some instances, the outer skin of the produce naturally prevents chemicals from penetrating through to the fruit or vegetable, or perhaps their growing is not so reliant on weed killers and fertilizers. In any event, because the likelihood of pesticides would be so limited, you can feel pretty comfortable purchasing them from just about anywhere, so they DO NOT HAVE TO BE ORGANIC.

The CLEAN 15 are as follows:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapefruit
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Papayas
  • Mangoes
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Cabbage
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet corn
  • Avocados

The Dirty Dozen

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The Dirty Dozen, on the other hand, are the produce items that you should ALWAYS BUY ORGANIC, because they almost always are sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers.  In addition to the Dirty Dozen, are two additional American food crops that have concerns to the public health; they are leafy greens and hot peppers. This is because residue tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have found these foods to also be laced with particularly toxic pesticides. Again, I would encourage you to ALWAYS BUY ORGANIC for these chemically laden items.


  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Snap peas (imported)
  • Potatoes
  • Leafy Greens
  • Hot Peppers

Once you have the general idea of what all those fruits and vegetables are on both lists, you might find that your shopping and budgeting can become easier to manage. This will ensure that you are feeding your family the best foods, for the best money.

In conclusion, you have to do what is in the best interest of your family. Try to remember what items are on these two lists, so you can use them as the foundation for your shopping.  Then you will be prepared when you go to the grocery store or at the local farmers market.  Better yet, most of these things can easily be grown in most parts of the country. This might be a good time to think about putting in a small garden plot in your yard; or maybe you could buy into a local community garden.

If you don’t have the space or can’t imagine putting in a small garden, perhaps you might think about growing some tomatoes, strawberries and peppers in containers in your backyard, patio or deck. There is something absolutely amazing about biting into freshly-picked tomatoes or strawberries, especially when they were grown with your own two hands.

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