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EWG and Organic Produce

For many, a big trade-off when shopping is buying organic produce vs. the cost of doing so. If you want to eat healthier, organic food is important. But it often comes at a cost: much higher prices.

Why is organic produce so much more expensive? Supply and demand has some bearing on this… though its consumption is increasing. This should result in lower prices for organics in the future. In fact I read recently where Costco is investing heavily in its organic produce category, including partnerships with farmers with assistance in acquiring suitable land.

Government agricultural policy has a bearing on costs. Many farm crops are highly subsidised by governments the world over. But organics do not share in most subsidisation programs.

So what does one do when trying to eat clean by incorporating organic produce while not spending a fortune on groceries?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has made things a bit easier for us. They have analysed the major fruit and vegetable crops and determined which ones typically are subjected to more pesticides during production.

The result is the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ and two lists: The Dirty Dozen™ and The Clean Fifteen™.

EWG and Organic Produce
EWG and Organic Produce

Shopping for organic produce made simple

For produce listed on The Dirty Dozen, buy organic. Produce on The Clean Fifteen typically will be contaminated with far fewer chemicals, thus less harmful if not organically grown.

One surprising result on this year’s list is the end of the apple’s reign as the most pesticide-laden item in the grocery store. It has been displaced this year by the strawberry. Here are a few things you won’t like knowing about strawberries:

“More than three-fourths of the fresh strawberries sold in the U.S. are grown in California, the state that most carefully tracks pesticide use. California data show that in 2014, nearly 300 pounds of pesticides were applied to each acre of strawberries – an astonishing amount, compared to about five pounds of pesticides per acre of corn, which is considered a pesticide-intensive crop.  

But only about 20 percent of the chemicals used on California strawberries were pesticides that can leave residues on harvested fruit. The other 80 percent — more than 9.7 million pounds in 2014 – were fumigants, which are poisonous gases injected directly into the ground to sterilize the soil before planting.” (from EWG’s ‘Focus on Strawberries’)

As we head into summer in the Northern Hemisphere, take advantage of the information provided by the EWG here:

Thanks to the EWG for its hard work to educate us on how to navigate our toxic world by making more informed choices… and for helping us make better decisions at the grocery store.