Which fruits and vegetables should I buy organic?

Want the rest? You’ll have to visit the site.

Mrs. Homegrown here:

My recent post about tomatoes reminded me that I needed to post this–I’ve been meaning to for a while.  The Environmental Working Group’s 2011 Shopping Guide has a listing of foods most contaminated with pesticides, and those least contaminated: the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen. Keeping this list in mind help you make choices as to where laying out the big bucks for organic–or growing your own–is going to make the most sense.

Tomatoes don’t appear on either short list, but they do appear as #34 on the EWG’s ranked list of 53 fruits and veggies, #1 being the most pesticide-laden (apples) and #53 being the least (onions). So tomatoes are sort of middling contaminated.

I should note the EWG wants to make it clear that you should not necessarily flee screaming from the Dirty Dozen. This is about awareness, and choices. From their FAQ:

  Should I stop eating celery or blueberries or other produce items on your Dirty Dozen list?

No, that has never been the Shopper’s Guide message. We would certainly recommend produce from our Dirty Dozen list in lieu of other, less-healthy foods or snacks, like fat-, sugar- or additive-laden processed products. But with the Shopper’s Guide you can have all the benefits of eating more produce while substantially reducing dietary exposure to pesticides.

Shop well, and prosper.

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  1. Wow, apples are the most contaminated! Where I live I don’t see local apples at my farmers market too often 🙁

    We do have a local pick your own blueberries farm. Every year we go and get a king’s ransom in blueberries and fill the freezer.

  2. Organic produce doesn’t prohibit pesticide. it only synthetic pesticides. Non synthetic pesticides can still be harmful to animals and the environment especially at their concentrated levels. These pesticides also need to be applied more often then synthetic. Also there are synthetic pesticides that have low application needs and also have a short life while some organics have a long life after application. things become fuzzy. We should really be looking at exactly what pesticides are being used. or look for pesticide free products.

  3. EWG has a free app with this list, and another with their sunscreen reviews/recommendations. Great to have along when out shopping!

  4. It is very true that the term organics does not translate to perfect. There are responsible farmers who cannot or choose not for various reasons obtain “organic” certification. There are certified organic growers who do things I don’t like, like heavy monocropping. They also are allowed to use “natural” pesticides, which can actually be pretty nasty.

    This is why we grow so much of our own stuff! Like so many other products–such as eggs, or face lotion, I can’t parse out the crap. I’d rather make it myself. If I can’t, I like to know who made it/grew it–personally.

    But for the times I can’t know that, for the times I must shop at the grocery store, I think this list is helpful.

  5. about two years ago i broke out in a rash my lips started to buff up i looked terrible. the only thing i did different was i forgot to wash a apple before i ate it. i had went to the hospital and it cost me $200.00 for the visit and strong medicine. the apple came from a local apple orchart i now shy away from there products

  6. Tomatoes are said to loose their nutrition after being refrigerated. Also, locally grown veggies have less distance to travel so if you eat them within a few days of purchase you really are getting a better bang from your buck from local produce.

  7. yeah absolutely helpful this list is. and absolutely impossible to parse through all the goods and not goods. I only hope that readers do understand what it actually means and that they have all the information so that they do not become disillusioned. all we can really do after all is try our best. I’m with you 100%

  8. I have worked in the field of local foods/organics and while I, like most others, am fascinated by these lists and do appreciate their helpfulness for those on a budget, it sometimes frustrates me that the lists, you, and most of the commenters here all seem to focus just on personal health and safety aspects of organics. I try to purchase organics whenever possible because of the huge difference it makes to the environment (which affects all of us sooner or later, in our pocketbooks as well) and the fact that organics embody the true cost of growing that food – remember, they are not overpriced (unless your retailer is ripping you off), the other stuff is ‘underpriced’ because those growers are allowed to offload certain expenses onto you, the taxpayer, somewhere down the line to clean up their mess or decry the environmental changes that commercial growing imposes. And @Ann, @jessieimproved, tomatoes don’t ‘die’ in the fridge anymore than any other fruit you’ve just separated from the plant dies after you’ve pulled it from its lifeline….you’re not supposed to refrigerate tomatoes because they lose their flavor. Not their nutrition. Its more of a taste/good cook issue.

  9. My pesticide of choice currently is squirting the bugs away with the garden hose water. I appreciate this list. And I appreciate farmers who do the right thing and don’t contaminate the soil and run-off water with chemicals! I am enjoying green gardening and my plants look healthier than ones I used to grow with chemical fertilizers.

  10. Conventional tomatoes may or may not be laden in pesticides, but over 90% are spliced with fish DNA (GMO). That’s a good enough reason to buy organic when the garden is not producing them for me…:-)

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