My first trip to the organic grocer was filled with awe, then shock. The store in my town is tiny, and resplendent with a cast of characters most fitting for nuts and crunch – little makeup, lots of sandals, and an unparalleled passion for produce. The fruits and vegetables, rich in color and beautifully displayed, quickly filled my reusable bags. I had enough produce for my family of four to last one week and made my way to the cashier. And then - yikes – sticker shock set in…never have I paid so much money for so few grocery items!
I am an active participant in the organic movement. I do not think that organic foods necessarily taste better, but I do believe that foods without chemicals make a difference in our long-term health and the health of our environment. I am also a realist. Buying organic can significantly add to a weekly food bill, and for many, is an unaffordable luxury.
So what to do? If there is only one change to your grocery list that you are able to make, it should be this: buy more produce! You should eat at least four to five servings of mostly vegetables but also fruits every day. We know that consumption of diet rich in fruits and vegetables reduces your risk of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, cancer, and many other evils.
Some fruits and vegetables are more likely to have chemical residues than others. With this in mind, you may opt for some organic choices. The Environmental Working Group has put together a handy list. The “Dirty Dozen” are 12 foods that have higher levels of pesticide residues and are more safely consumed when organically grown. This list includes apples, strawberries and grapes. The “Clean Fifteen” are 15 foods that are less likely to have residues and includes foods such as corn, avocados, and cantaloupe. You can see the full list here. Forgot to bring this list to the store? No worries, you can download a *free* app for your smartphone by searching in your app store for the “Dirty Dozen.”
At your next shopping trip, remember the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. Burlap bags and Birkenstocks optional.