Earthkeepers’ Guide to Organics
Foods worth buying organic
- Bell peppers: One of the Environmental Working Group’s so-called “dirty dozen”—12 types of produce that have the highest level of pesticide residue. Their company includes celery, peaches, nectarines, and cherries.
- Apples: Ninety-two percent of the apples tested by the EWG were positive for pesticide residues—and 72% of those had more than one type of bug-killer on their peel.
- Peanut butter: Chemicals tend to concentrate in oils—one reason residues from up to 28 different pest-killers have been found in p.b.
- Strawberries: Bugs love supersweet fruits, so it’s no wonder that random F.D.A. tests found trace amounts of 38 different kinds of pesticides on these luscious, soft-skinned treats.
A good rule of thumb for produce: if you’re going to eat the skin, consider buying organic. If you’re going to peel the fruit or vegetable, you’ll end up stripping off much of the residues anyway – not worth the extra money.
Foods not worth buying organic
- Milk: Any residue from cattle feed ends up in milk fat, which gets removed if you drink low-fat or skim. And, contrary to popular belief, all milk—organic or not—is free of antibiotics.
- Chicken and fish: The USDA hasn’t created official guidelines for what constitutes “organic” fish. Also, meats in general don’t have as many residues as produce.
- Olive oil: Fewer synthetic chemicals are used in the production of olives than in other conventional crops to begin with—so you’re not getting that much bang for your buck if you buy organic.
- Yogurt: Like milk, any trace amounts of residue in yogurt would come from the fruit mixed in, not the yogurt itself.