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Choosing Organic Foods Wisely

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by moo.point)
at 8:33AM Thursday 8 September, 2011
under Money Saving Tips

After reading a clever post by mumsaves on Monday about going organic, I was reminded of something I discovered months ago about eating organic foods. Part of my effort to be more fit and healthy has included incorporating more fruit and vegetables into my daily diet, instead of biscuits, fizzy pop and pizza. I have trained my mind to crave juicy apples instead of spoonfuls of Nutella. However, while researching what foods were best for my health, I kept coming across something called 'The Dirty Dozen'. It turns out that I have been poisoning myself little by little by eating an apple a day!


I was actually shocked and disgusted to find out that my favourite new snack tops the newest Dirty Dozen list, as concluded by the Environmental Working Group. Scientists found traces of as many as 67 different pesticides on apples. Yuck! Because of this, it's recommended that you buy organic when it comes to the following produce items: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce and kale/collard greens. With fresh produce already at a high cost, I was completely discouraged by this list since it seemed like all of my favourites were considered to be ridden with dangerous chemicals unless I wanted to pay extra to not have them added.

We all know that organic foods are more expensive than their counterparts and the reason for this is simply because it's more labour-intensive to grow everything naturally. When I first heard about this trend to go organic I thought it was just another fad and I was perfectly happy eating my cheaper, genetically altered foods. However, older and wiser, I can no longer ignore the possible risks of consuming chemicals that are meant to kill. So what can you do when going organic looks like it's way outside your financial comfort zone?

Well, to start with, there is some good news. Alongside the 'Dirty Dozen' is a separate list called the 'Clean 15', meaning that you don't have to buy everything organic to avoid chemicals. The items on the 'Clean 15' list typically have very few traces of pesticides and are considered to be safer to eat: onions, sweetcorn, pineapples, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit and mushrooms.

So, the easiest and most cost-efficient ways to cut consumption of pesticides is to a) shop seasonally and locally or b) purchase produce that is on the Clean 15 list. My personal trick to remember which item is on which list is to think about the outer layer of the fruit or vegetable. Typically, something with a thick peel or skin is safe to buy non-organic. This isn't a fail-proof method but it does help me during shopping trips.

If you absolutely have to eat some fresh strawberries or make your own salads using lettuce and spinach, make sure you clean, clean and clean again before you eat them. Unfortunately, rinsing with water alone does not get rid of all the pesticides so you might want to follow these tips for getting rid of pesticides from your fruit and veg.

And if you want to give organics a go, don't miss out on mumsaves' fab find of a voucher for a free box of organic produce delivered to your door by Abel and Cole.