Organic Produce on a Budget

Q: If I have to pick and choose, which fruits and vegetables should I buy only organic? Which nonorganic produce is safer to buy? Which have the most pesticides?

A: We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us. Many nutrition experts would like us to eat at least five portions a day of these tasty, colorful foods, which are full of fiber and health-giving nutrients.

But there is more than nutrients to think about when it comes to fruit and vegetables. My local supermarkets carry a limited selection of organic produce, so I try to choose conventionally grown produce with the least pesticide contamination for my home cooking.

Here are some helpful guidelines from the Washington, D.C., based Environmental Working Group (EWG).

According to the EWG, these conventionally grown fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide contamination:

1.   Strawberries
2.   Bell Pepper – red & green
3.   Spinach
4.   Cherries (U.S.)
5.   Peaches
6.   Cantaloupe (Mexican)
7.   Celery
8.   Apples
9.   Apricots
10. Green Beans
11. Grapes (Chilean)
12. Cucumbers

To avoid pesticides, I look for organically grown versions of the above vegetables when planning my home menus.

According to the EWG, these conventionally grown fruits and vegetables have the least pesticide contamination:

1.   Avocados
2.   Corn
3.   Onions
4.   Sweet Potatoes
5.   Cauliflower
6.   Brussel Sprouts
7.   Grapes (U.S.)
8.   Bananas
9.   Plums
10. Green Onions (scallions)
11. Watermelon
12. Broccoli

You may want to print out these lists and take them with you – they’ll come in handy when it’s time to make choices in the produce isle.

Whatever you do, remember to enjoy your cooking and dining. Taste is key when it comes to choosing foods. Organic foods taste good and have a value-added bonus – they are safe for you and the environment.

You may want to print out these lists and take them with you – they’ll come in handy when it’s time to make choices in the produce isle. You can read more at the Environmental Working Group – www.ewg.org.

What you have in your mind?