The new Dirty Dozen

Blueberries: No. 5 on the EWG's Dirty Dozen to always buy organic

Is organic better than conventional?

That depends on what you mean by “better.”

Maria Rodale, author of Organic Manifesto, led the panel discussion “Why Organic Matters” at last month’s Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Calif. Thus far, she noted, much of the debate has been over whether organic food is more nutritious than conventionally produce food. The jury is still out on that–some studies suggest organic is more nutritious, while others find no significant difference.

“Forget nutrition,” Rodale said. “It’s time to shift the debate.”

Her argument: Organic is undoubtedly healthier for the environment. It’s better for the soil, and better for people, since agricultural chemicals may be linked to cancer, diabetes, infertility, and other diseases. Despite what the Environmental Protection Agency might claim, “there really is no safe dose,” Rodale contends.

In this respect, every shopper can be a food activist. Whenever you buy certified-organic food, you’re voting for a system free of pesticides, herbicides, and GMOs.

One way to start: avoid the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen–the 12 fruits and vegetables most likely to be laden with pesticides, and which you should always buy organic.  Their latest version includes:

  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell Peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Kale
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Imported Grapes