Thursday, February 25, 2010

Organic Produce

I received a phone call the other day from a child care provider who was wondering if I had any tips for saving money on organic produce. She said she was dedicated to serving organic produce to the children in her care because she was worried about the pesticides on conventionally-grown produce. I thought I would share the information that I gave to her in case anyone else had the same question.

The first thing I want to emphasize is that eating ANY type of fruits and vegetables is better than NOT eating them at all. In other words, if you only have the choice of conventionally-grown produce, the nutritional value you get from these foods far outweighs any potential negative effects of the pesticides. That said, my favorite tip for saving money is to concentrate on buying organic for those fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticide residues. The Environmental Working Group has put together a nice list of the "Dirty Dozen" fruits and vegetables that you should buy organic if possible. These fruits and vegetables have been shown to have the most pesticide residues. They also have a "Clean 15" list of fruits and vegetables with the lowest levels of pesticides on average. If you didn't have the money to buy all organic produce, the "Clean 15" would be the products to buy conventionally-grown. They estimate that people who eat the "Dirty Dozen" fruits and vegetables consume an average of 10 pesticides a day, and those who eat the "Clean 15" fruits and vegetables ingest fewer than 2 pesticides daily. You can find their lists at:

Some other ways you can save money on organic produce include shopping at farmer's markets, or joining a CSA organic farm program. CSA farms allow you to "join" by buying a share in their farm. You will then receive a food basket each week in the summer containing whatever they grow. You pay for the share up front, so the only risk to you is if their crops don't do well or are damaged by hail or something like that. You can find out if there is an organic CSA farm in your area on this website:

Note: the CSA farms listed on this website are not all organic. If that is what you are looking for, make sure you inquire about that before you buy your share.

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