Below are two lists, courtesy of The Environmental Working Group, of fruits and veggies that are more and less important to buy organic. Meaning, there are some fruits and veggies we can save money on by buying non-organic without worrying too much about ingesting chemicals.
The Dirty Dozen –Produce containing high levels of pesticide residues, even after being rinsed and peeled. Good idea to buy the organic versions of these fruits and veggies.
Most of these items have thin skins, making them more permeable to pesticides. The pesticides found on non-organic versions of these items are linked to brain damage and cancer and are outlawed in many European countries. They are, however, approved by the US Government*. Of course.
- Sweet bell peppers
- Hot peppers
The Clean 15–Produce containing minimal levels of pesticide residues when grown conventionally. Aka, we can buy these products non-organic without worrying too much.
Most of these items have thick skins or shells which protect the part you eat from contact with any pesticides used.
- Sweet Corn**
- Sweet Peas
**Sweet corn, papayas, and summer squash are often genetically modified crops, so if you want to avoid being part of the “greatest global experiment known to mankind” (quote from acupuncturist Jenny Johnston of Santa Cruz), best to go organic with these crops.
If we all buy non-organic, Clean 15 produce, how will this impact the agricultural market?
Conventional farmers will continue as is, while farmers who grow organic produce will be out of luck, unable to compete with the low prices of non-organic produce.
By selecting non-organic options, we as consumers are telling farmers that we value cheap food and that it is ok to use harmful chemicals on our food. Thats what “voting with your dollar” means to me, by the way. When you buy something, you are supporting someone and encouraging them to keep on keepin’ on.
It is important to note that produce on the Clean 15 list still did test positive for pesticide residues, just not at the high levels of the Dirty Dozen. Pesticides do have environmental and health impacts which someone is going to pay for down the line, either through medical bills or contaminated water or another Dust Bowl, something like that.
By buying organic, we are telling farmers that we value organic farming and the extra efforts they are taking to build a sustainable food system. Buying organic today, even though it is more expensive, will encourage all farmers to adopt safer and more sustainable growing practices and prices will eventually even out. I’m no economist, but I’m pretty sure thats how supply and demand works.