Each year the Environmental Working Group lists the top twelve fruits and vegetables. It includes the fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residue, also known as the “dirty dozen.” The next time you go grocery shopping, keep in mind that certain products are worth shelling out extra money to buy organic. Here’s the low-down on the ‘dirty’ list and some ‘clean’ substitutes that will help protect you and your family from pesticides.
1. Buy Organic Apples & Mangoes
Always try to buy organic apples. If you can’t find or afford organic apples, seek out locally grown apples at your farmer’s market. And wash them thoroughly. If you’re concerned about store-bought apples, slice open a fresh mango instead. Mangoes are on the Clean list. Meaning they have the lowest level of pesticides and contamination of all produce.
2. Organic strawberries
Organic fresh strawberries can be pricey, so if the cost holds you back, try selecting frozen organic strawberries instead, which are more budget-friendly. You can also consider purchasing other berries, such as blackberries, not on the “dirty” list.
3. Grapes are better if you buy organic.
Imported grapes tend to contain higher levels of pesticides than American grapes, so if cost is holding you back and non-organic is your only option, select grapes grown in the USA and wash well.
4. Buy Organic Vegetables
If the cost of organic vegetables makes you avoid them, skip the celery and opt for asparagus instead, which is on the Clean list of produce.
If you’re unable to find or purchase organic peaches, opt for another fuzzy fruit with a lower pesticide residue instead, like kiwis. Kiwis are found on the Clean list of products, and the non-organic option is a much safer bet.
Although spinach is loaded with antioxidants and iron, choosing the non-organic option may not be worth it. Instead, swap this leafy green with cabbage, which is found on the “Clean 15” list and can be as versatile as spinach in recipes and salads.
7. Bell peppers
Peppers tend to be highly contaminated with pesticides. But the good news is that organic options can commonly be found, and they aren’t too pricey. But if you can’t locate these peppers, look for other vegetables that can flavor recipes and salads, such as onions on the Clean list.
Organic nectarines can be difficult to find at times. Choose another sweet citrus fruit such as cantaloupe or grapefruit when organic options aren’t available. They’re both on the Clean list of produce.
Opt for organically grown cucumbers whenever possible. If you can’t find them, choose a less contaminated vegetable option such as water chestnuts, zucchini, or eggplant.
10. Buy Organic Potatoes
Organic potatoes are relatively affordable, but switch out your white potato for sweet potatoes instead if you can’t find them. Not only are sweet potatoes on the “Clean 15” list, but they’re also higher in vitamin C and carotenoids than white potatoes, and they have less of an impact on blood sugar.
Tiny tomatoes are easy to find as organic alternatives and are mostly affordable. If the cost still gets to you, look for freshly grown cherry tomatoes at your local farmer’s market—or even better, grow your own!
Always buy organic Hot peppers
Hot peppers can be good for you, but pesticide residue can negate some health benefits. Instead, look for organic whenever possible. Since you may occasionally use hot peppers in recipes, freeze your organic hot peppers to extend their shelf life to prevent costs associated with food waste.
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