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The Broke Organic: Buying Produce

By Julie Fink
Posted On Apr 12, 2016
The Broke Organic: Buying Produce

Over 3,000 produce samples were tested and found that almost two-thirds contained pesticide residues. The tests found a total 165 different pesticides on thousands of fruit and vegetables in the 2013 sampling.
~The U.S. Department of Agriculture (2013) 

Today, in the adventures of eating organic on a shoestring budget, we are heading to the grocery store to see where we can save a few coins. I’m always peeved at those granola moms who drop the hundies at Whole Foods like it’s nothing. Just because I’m not living like a line from ‘Royals’ – jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash – doesn’t mean I can’t buy the best food for my body. So I’m here to offer a few quick tips for the health conscious foodie that strives to eat well without having to break the bank.

I feel like in this day and age, eating well tends to be more of a luxury when it should be a necessity. Putting the best produce in your body, when you think of it, should be a top priority in life. However, we are having serious trouble with our crops being a tad on the pesticide side. In addition, our soil is depleted of nutrients, and we are facing a GMO monster making our produce less and less good for us to consume. This is why organic food is more expensive. Which leaves me in an organic pickle…

So I learned something recently that blew my mind: There’s some produce that you should buy organic and others that don’t have to be organic at all!

Here, I’ve been thinking, if it’s not organic, it’s not good for you. But there is some produce that doesn’t get harmed with pesticides like others do.

The reasoning comes from Richard Wiles, senior vice president of policy for the Environmental Working Group, “If you eat something like a pineapple or sweet corn, they have a protection defense because of the outer layer of skin. Not the same for strawberries and berries.”

So if the flesh of the produce is thin like an apple or strawberry then you’d want to buy it organic because chances are, it’ll contain pesticide residue. Avocados that contain a thick outer layer would be safe to buy non-organic because you peel away and discard the skin which also served as the protective barrier.

The Environmental Working Group even came out with a cutesy list of produce they call “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15.”

The fruits and vegetables on “The Dirty Dozen” list, when conventionally grown, tested positive for at least 47- 67 different chemicals. For produce on the “dirty” list, you should definitely go organic — unless you relish the idea of consuming a chemical cocktail.

Dirty Dozen

All the produce on “The Clean 15” bore little to no traces of pesticides, and is safe to consume in non-organic form.

Clean 15

If you are thinking, “Oh, I’ll just spend the least amount of money at Super Walmart because I just wash everything.” Think again.

Wiles adds, “You should do what you can do, but the idea you are going to wash pesticides off is a fantasy. But you should still wash it because you will reduce pesticide exposure.” The lists of dirty and clean produce were compiled after the USDA washed the produce using high-power pressure water systems that many of us could only dream of having in our kitchens.

So don’t stress over eating all organic. Pick up what you need to at the farmer’s market and hit up your local discount store for the rest!

Stay tuned to learn more about cutting costs and eating right from yours truly, The Broke Organic…

Cover Photo: Shutterstock