Browsing the produce section of your local grocery store can leave you asking: When is it best to buy organic fruits and vegetables? With so many options, it can be difficult to choose what is most beneficial to your health and – let’s be honest – your wallet. Luckily, there are some hard and fast rules to help guide your decision to buy organic produce. Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen can help you pare down your grocery list to the fruits and vegetables you should always buy organic.
What Is The Dirty Dozen?
A Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ is compiled annually to help consumers make informed decisions about when to buy organic produce. The report uses U.S. Department of Agriculture and FDA data on the number of pesticides found on conventional produce to rank the contamination of 48 popular fruits and vegetables. This valuable resource includes the Dirty Dozen: A list of the 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide rankings that consumers should always buy organic.
What Are Pesticides?
What are pesticides, and why are they bad for you? The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines a pesticide as “any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.” The widespread use of pesticides in farming dates back to the 1930s; since then, the number of chemicals registered for agricultural use in the United States has risen to include over 600 pesticides. Despite evidence that pesticides are harmful to human health, chemicals continue to be used in conventional farming, with an average application equating up to 16 pounds of pesticides per person every year.
The 2017 Dirty Dozen
Studies show that nearly 70% of U.S. Department of Agriculture fruit and vegetable samples are contaminated with pesticide residues – even after being washed and peeled. More than 98 percent of the strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples sampled tested positive for at least one pesticide. A single sample of strawberries showed at least 20 different pesticides, and spinach samples showed twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other fruit or vegetable on the list. Pears and potatoes were added to the list of Dirty Dozen foods in 2017, replacing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.
Here are the Dirty Dozen foods for 2017, ranked in order of highest to the lowest concentration of pesticides:
Why Buy Organic Produce?
The best way to avoid pesticides on your fruits and vegetables is to buy organic produce. Unlike conventional farming, organic farming prohibits the use of chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and genetically-modified organisms. At the Eminence Certified Organic Farm, we use techniques like crop rotation, companion planting and composting to produce nutrient-rich plants and produce that heal the earth and benefit your well-being. When it comes to ingredients, we believe organic is best for everything from your favorite recipe to your best-loved skin care.
Do you shop organic? If so, why did you decide to make the switch? We’d love to hear your best practices for living an organic lifestyle. Share them with us in the comments below and join the conversation on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | G+.