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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dirty Dozen 2010

Are you familiar with "The Dirty Dozen?" It's a list of the top 12 fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated by pesticides. The latest edition of Vegetarian Times has released the updated list.

The Dirty Dozen
1. celery
2. peaches
3. strawberries
4. apples
5. blueberries
6. nectarines
7. bell peppers
8. spinach
9. cherries
10. kale/collard greens
11. potatoes
12. grapes (imported)

Alternately, there is also "The Clean Fifteen," which is a list of - you guessed it - the fruits & veggies with the lowest risk of pesticide contamination.

The Clean Fifteen
1. onions
2. avocado
3. sweet corn
4. pineapple
5. mangoes
6. sweet peas
7. asparagus
8. kiwifruit
9. cabbage
10. eggplant
11. cantaloupe
12. watermelon
13. grapefruit
14. sweet potatoes
15. honeydew melon

(VT's source: Environmental Working Group, 2010. Visit for more info.)

My stance on organic vs. conventional is to try to follow the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen as a guide, but I have to say that I care more about buying local and supporting farms and farmers in my own community. I planted my own little herb and vegetable garden this year, and while it's small, it's a start and it sure is nice to know where that food comes from. I have gotten to know a couple of growers at our local farmers market, and they're wonderful and wise people and I am happy to support their organic-but-not-"certified" veggies, rather than pay double at the grocery store for wimpy certified organic items that were shipped from hundreds of miles away. By "wimpy," I mean that their organic produce was picked at least a week ago, whereas at the farmers market, it was picked that day or the evening before. The quality is better, the price is better, and the environmental cost is lower. It's a win-win. I also prefer to shop with the seasons as much as possible. This means, while living in the midwest, no fresh pineapple or avocados in December, unfortunately, but plenty of root vegetables in the fall.

Some people are really gung-ho about organic, and that's great. I personally can't afford to buy everything organic, and I also feel strongly about supporting my community by supporting local farmers. It's a personal decision, and I want to remind my readers that with every purchase you make, you are definitely voting with your wallet.

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