Thursday, March 19, 2009

Organic produce, organic produce on the wall - who is the fairest of them all?

Our friends at the Environmental Working Group have updated their “Dirty Dozen List” of the most polluted and pesticide laden fruits and vegetables brought to you by the friendly and concerned folks at Mega Bucks Agriculture - so if you want to indulge and make sure you have the maximum exposure to pesticides please choose only from these twelve foods, and while you are at it work on your tan at noon not wearing any sun screen whilst sipping Coca Cola out of a PBA lined plastic bottle (which you will not recycle).
If you are one of us - however - and feel you should have some say in which poisons you will subject your body or your children’s bodies to - pay attention - you should be able to rattle off these twelve fruits and vegetables flawlessly even if I came to your house and woke you up in the middle of the night.
There are pediatricians and nutritionists out there who will go as far as recommending NOT to give any of these fruits or vegetables to your children ever, period!

I will give you the list at the end and the link to the full list can be found here, but for those of us who have been using this list faithfully for years after some research I was able to figure out what had changed.

Dropped from the twelve most contaminated list:
potatoes - dropped to #15

spinach - dropped to #14

raspberries dropped to #20.

Newly on the watchlist:

Kale!!! at #8 - way too high for my taste - and will be bought organically from now on

Lettuce - at #9 - not much of a surprise for me - has been on my private watch list forever

Carrots - at #11 - they just moved up from #13 so they were too close for comfort anyway - not such a big surprise and if you buy the big 5 pound bags the price difference between conventional and organic carrots becomes almost negligible.

Also, on the other side of the spectrum - the twelve safest fruits and vegetables - there was a bit of a shakedown - Broccoli, Cauliflower and Bananas, all were pushed out of the twelve least contaminated produce slots and seem now a little less safe at slots #13, #24 (!) and #21 respectively.

On the bright side - Pineapple - Cabbage and Eggplant have taken their spots.

Here are the lists:

Dirty Dozen: Most Pesticide Contaminated Fruits & Vegetables:

You should buy only organic: (from worst to best)

1. Peach
2. Apple
3. Sweet Bell Pepper
4. Celery
5. Nectarine
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Kale
9. Lettuce
10. Grapes - Imported
11. Carrot
12. Pear

and just for completion sake: if the money allows!

13. Collard Greens
14. Spinach
15. Potatoes (used to be much higher on the list)
16. Green Beans
17. Summer Squash
18. Pepper - (hot ones - I presume)
19. Cucumber - ( I usually buy the English variety - at least they come sans wax)
20. Raspberries

The consistently clean conventional produce - buy these non-organic: (from best to worst)

1. Onions

2. Avocado

3. Sweet Corn - Frozen

4. Pineapple

5. Mango

6. Asparagus

7. Sweet Peas - frozen

8. Kiwi

9. Cabbage

10. Eggplant

11. Papaya

12. Watermelon

13. Broccoli

14. Tomatoes ( now if they only tasted like tomatoes…)

15. Sweet Potatoes ( great alternative for regular potatoes - cheaper and more nutritious)

Also, a quick reminder - know your PLU codes = Price Look-Up codes - that is the code that the cashier will put in before they weigh and price your produce. It will either be on the sticker, on the rubber band holding the produce together - like in broccoli bunches or sometime tattooed on the fruit itself.

PLU Code Type of Produce:

4060 4 digit code - conventional broccoli
94060 5 digit code starting with a “9” - organically grown broccoli

84060 5 digit code starting with a “8” - genetically engineered broccoli
( why do we worry about mouse genes in our oranges - well, it is all the rage in Europe… read up here)


earthmother said...

I saw this last week and was not at all happy to see Kale at #8, followed so closely by Collards and Spinach. Since I live on these dark leafy greens, daily, it's only organic from now on for this gal. Can I just tell you how PO'd this makes me, after I scored one pound bags of kale and collards for $1.99 each...grrrrr.

moni said...

Those were the worst ones - I always thought that cruciferous were safe - the entire darn group and than this!
Especially infuriating when I know from the CSA that these things kinda grow like weeds on their own.

eilahtan said...

Thank you so much for this post! I have read many articles on this but it is nice to see a complete list, from best to worst. I was wondering if you knew if this list was applicable to Canadian produce, as well?

moni said...

Hey eilahtan!
I know that EWG - the Environmental Working Group where this list was created is a a Washington D.C based organization - so their recommendations are mainly for US consumers - but I was just finishing up my "organics" chapter on my book yesterday - and for that I did a LOT of research also in UK and German publications and my conclusion would be that it is all the same worldwide - since produce is shipped from everywhere to everywhere. The overall conclusion still is "organic" is great - and surprisingly "locally grown" may sometimes be even better....

Sherlyn said...

I just stumbled across your blog and I want to thank you for posting this. I actually work as an accountant for a produce wholesaler, and I didn't even know the thing about the PLU. Admittedly, I don't get a lot of stuff from where I work because it's not organic, although I go nuts when spanish clementines come in...