Going Organic: What's Worth the Cost and What's Not

Posted on 04/18/2012

According to the Organic Trade Association, more than a billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the US. Eating organic can help reduce agricultural pollution and avoid exposure to pesticides that some studies show can adversely affect the nervous system, increase risk of cancer and decrease fertility. But eating organic also comes at a cost that can be as much as 50-100% higher than conventional food products. Does it pay to buy organic?

Apples, Strawberries, and Peaches- Go Organic These three fruits take the first, third and fourth position on the Environmental Working Group, or EWG, Dirty Dozen list of the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables. Around 98% of conventional apples had pesticides when tested. Some strawberries carried as many as 13 different pesticides. Although it will cost you more to buy organic versions of these staples, it’s a much healthier choice.

Pineapple, Avocado, and Mango- Buy Conventional
Any fruit or veggie with a tough skin that you tend to peel and discard may not be worth the extra money for the organic option. That’s because most of the pesticides tend to reside in the peel and if you’re not eating that, odds are you won’t be consuming as much of it.

Spinach, Lettuce and Collard Greens- Go Organic
You may think that salad is healthy, but it can also be packing pesticides along with all of those vitamins. Spinach, lettuce and collard greens also appear on the Dirty Dozen list. That makes it a good option for choosing the organic version.

Onions- Go Conventional
Onions come in at number one on the AWG Clean 15 list. Since they have the lowest pesticide residue you may as well save some cash and buy conventional rather than organic onions.

Baby Foods- Go Organic
Since kids’ immune systems are still developing, it’s a good idea to keep them on as much organic food as possible. According to Webmd.com, that’s because they’re at greater risk from some pesticides than adults so going organic can be an investment into their healthy future.

Potatoes- Depends on Type
According to the EWG regular potatoes are on the Dirty Dozen list which means spending extra on organic could be the best way to go. But, if you’re eating sweet potatoes, then it’s OK to stick with conventional produce.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
Government dietary guidelines recommend adults consume 4-5 cups of produce every day for good health. Even if you don’t have room in your budget for organic produce, many experts agree that the health benefits of eating conventional fruits and vegetables outweigh the potential risk pesticides provide.

By Alison Storm

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