Shop smarter, not harder

The more I learn about our food supply, the harder it is for me to find the right things to eat. There’s a lot to consider – is the food in season, has it spent days and weeks traveling across the country or world to reach me, how much gasoline was used to bring it to me, was the food treated with pesticides, did the animal it came from get access to green pastures, and is it produced in an environmentally-sustainable way? It’s a dilemma for my health and wallet, and one that seems to worsen the more educated I become.

I’m currently reading “To Buy or Not to Buy Organic: What You Need to Know to Choose the Healthiest, Safest, Most Earth-Friendly Food.” One of the most useful pieces of information in this book comes in the form of these two lists.

Dirty Dozen: Foods to Buy Organic

1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Nectarines, imported
7. Grapes, imported
8. Sweet bell peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries, domestic
11. Lettuce
12. Kale collard greens

Clean 15: Okay to Buy Non-Organic

  1. Onions
  2. sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe, domestic
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

This being said, it’s important to note that sometimes organic is not the gold standard. With the increased demand for organics has come a diluting of the standards that were supposed to distinguish organic food from non-organic. Many small, local farmers are finding it cost-prohibitive to obtain organic-certification, yet if you were to ask them about their growing practices, you may find they are holding themselves to an even higher standard that the government has put out. Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking.

The bottom line is, if you’re really committed to eating healthier and leaving a smaller footprint on the earth, it’s essential to do your homework and to strike balance between being a locavore and eating organically.


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