Do you always buy organic produce, or — like so many of us — is paying an extra fifty cents per pound for organic strawberries pretty darn cringe-worthy? Yet if you don't choose organic produce consistently, how many pesticides are you potentially exposed to? And FYI: even if you wash your produce meticulously, certain chemicals can still remain. Ugh.
One way to figure out the answer of to-buy-or-not-to-buy is to check out the annual report from the Pesticide Data Program run by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program targets commonly eaten produce, tests it for pesticide residues, and annually releases its findings. It's a gigantic report, though, so to make things easier, each year a non-profit called the Environmental Working Group (EWG) compiles the data into a "dirty dozen" of produce items with the highest amount of pesticide residues, ie, the ones you should buy organic. Shockingly, strawberries, pears, and spinach are some of the worst offenders.
Click through our slideshow above for a look at the full list of the EWG's "dirty dozen," aka. fruits and vegetables worthy of an organic upcharge.
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We believe your health, and especially the health of your kids — as even low levels of pesticide exposure can be harmful to infants, babies, and young children — is worth ponying up a few extra bucks at the grocery store.
PS, by contrast, EWG's equally-memorably named 'Clean Fifteen' list of produce least likely to contain pesticide residues includes sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit. Buy organic or don't on those!
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And once you have your fresh, pesticide-free produce in hand, check out our inspiring, recipe-filled cooking shows like Hemsley + Hemsley, Now Eat This!, Healthy Gourmet, Recipe Rehab and Flip My Food. Here's a bit more about each show and when to catch your favorite episodes. Find out where you can watch.