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When is it important to buy organic?

organicWhen you are trying to lose weight, it is really important to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Most veggies are low in calories, full of antioxidants, and high in fiber. So, eating a lot of veggies can help you feel full longer and avoid overeating. Perhaps more importantly, they help fight cancer and other diseases. Fruit is also high in fiber and contains lots of disease-fighting antioxidants. However, fruits also tend to be higher in calories than veggies, so don’t go overboard.

While you are shopping for all those fruits and veggies to help you lose weight, you may wonder when it is important to buy organic vs. non-organic? Luckily, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a guide each year to help consumers know which produce items contain high levels of pesticides and which produce items do not. They compile a “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” list every year, and by using this guide, you can save money by purchasing organic produce ONLY when it’s important. There are many fruits and veggies that are grown conventionally, but use very little or no pesticides. For those items, it’s a lot more economical to skip buying the organic variety. Items on the “Dirty Dozen” that are conventionally grown use a lot of pesticides, so spending more money for organic varieties makes sense. Note: if a produce item appears higher up on the list, it contains more pesticides.

Dirty Dozen (Buy organic!)

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Imported nectarines
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Potatoes
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Hot peppers

Clean Fifteen (Buy conventional and save money!)

  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocados
  3. Cabbage
  4. Cantaloupe
  5. Sweet corn
  6. Eggplant
  7. Grapefruit
  8. Kiwi
  9. Mangoes
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Onions
  12. Papayas
  13. Pineapples
  14. Sweet peas (frozen)
  15. Sweet potatoes

For the FULL list and more information on EWG’s methodology, visit their website: EWG’s 2013 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. For more tips on making good, diet-friendly choices at the grocery store, read Shop Healthy at the Grocery Store. Happy Shopping!

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