Buying Organic? Get the Best Bang for Your Buck

Healthnotes Newswire (April 9, 2009)—With the economy dominating the headlines these days, people looking to manage or prevent health conditions with a good diet have yet another point to consider when choosing their food. Those of us trying to stretch our dollars may be tempted to by-pass the organic produce aisle completely. Instead, look at these suggestions on where to get the most value in your organic fruits and vegetable purchases.

Get to know the top 12

The Environmental Working Group (EWG)—a Washington DC-based watchdog organization of scientists, policy experts, lawyers, and other professionals who review studies and data to expose threats to our environment and health—has compiled a list based on extensive analysis on contaminants in produce.

The EWG has found that you can lower your pesticide exposure by 90% simply by choosing the organic varieties of the following fruits and vegetables—presented from most to least important:

1. Peaches

2. Apples

3. Sweet bell peppers

4. Celery

5. Nectarines

6. Strawberries

7. Cherries

8. Lettuce

9. Grapes (imported)

10. Pears

11. Spinach

12. Potatoes

You can start slowly and purchase just a few items each week. Make one out of every ten foods you buy organic. Pick one thing—apples, peaches, or potatoes, for instance.

Weigh your options

In addition to the advantage of lower pesticide levels, “some evidence suggests that organic produce may contain more vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial plant compounds than conventionally grown produce,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, the national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association in Chicago. Plus, it’s earth-friendly: sustainable organic farming enhances the soil and conserves water—a boon to all of us in the long-term.

That said, however, remember that many people do not eat the recommended daily allowance of 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day. So your first step should simply be to buy more produce. If it’s within reach—such as in your fridge or in a fruit bowl on the dining room table—you’re more likely to eat more. Counsels Blatner, “Consume the minimum recommended amount every day—no matter how it’s grown!”

Before becoming a freelance writer, Nancy Gottesman was a senior editor at Shape magazine for 11 years, where she edited women’s health and nutrition articles. As a writer, she still covers the same topics for such publications as Women’s Health, Family Circle, Fitness, Cooking Light, Parents, Parenting, and Fit Pregnancy. She lives in Santa Monica, CA.

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