June 10, 2015

The Organic Conundrum

By cancerconnect

Learn to discern when it’s critical to choose organic.

Let’s face it—organic is expensive. It’s also better for our health. Conventionally grown produce often comes with a side of pesticides that you didn’t order. For example, according to the Environmental Working Group, if you’re noshing on conventionally grown celery, you’re consuming about 67 pesticides.

It’s a no-brainer—we would all probably choose organically grown produce if we weren’t limited by our wallets. But, don’t let the cost of organic food compromise your health. A little homework will help you make smart choices that protect both your health and your pocketbook. If you’re armed with information before you head to the grocery store, you’ll be able to choose wisely.

Pesticide Residue

It probably comes as no surprise that pesticides leave residue on the produce they’re designed to protect. Some foods have softer skins and tend to absorb more pesticides. Other foods have thicker skins and may not carry a heavy toxic load of pesticides. The trick is learning to discern which foods are the safest.

The Dirty Dozen

The Environmental Working Group has developed a list they call the Dirty Dozen. This is a list of the twelve foods that carry the highest level of pesticide residue. These foods carry between 47 and 67 pesticides per serving. These are the foods you may want to choose to buy organic. Or if you can’t afford organic, you may choose to avoid these foods altogether. (See below for the list.)

The Clean Fifteen

If your budget permits it, organic is always the best option. However, if you’re trying to keep costs down, some conventionally grown produce is considered safer than others. The Clean Fifteen is a list of the fruits and vegetables with the lowest levels of pesticide residue. (See below.) It’s considered safe to skip organic with these foods.

The Dirty Dozen

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Grapes
  • Carrots
  • Pears

The Clean Fifteen

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet peas
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Papaya
  • Watermelon
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes


  • Buy locally whenever possible. Check www.localharvest.org for local farmers near you.
  • Visit the Environmental Working Group (www.foodnews.org) for the complete list of fruits and vegetables along with their levels of pesticide residue.
  • To make grocery shopping easier, the Environmental Working Group also offers an iPhone app.

Tags: Nutritional Know-How