Buy This, Not That. The Green Grocery List

Many of you may have seen the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen.  The Clean 15 is a list of 15 produce items you can buy that are low in pesticides; therefore you can buy traditional varieties, not organic.  That list is below without modification.  The Dirty Dozen, as the name implies, is the list of 12 foods to buy organic because they are high in pesticides.  I’ve modified the Dirty Dozen list to include products I think are critical to buy organic because of antibiotics, growth hormones or the potential for high contamination levels.  For example, farm raised salmon from Northern Europe which consists of much of the U.S. salmon consumption, contains carcinogens, PCB’s, brominated flame retardants and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT.  (“I’ll have the salmon, hold the Brominated Flame Retardants, please”).  People complain that buying organic food is expensive, and it can be, but if you just stop eating altogether think of the money you’ll save!

Before we get to the lists, here are some ways to save on organic produce.  You don’t have to buy everything we suggest – start small with the foods you consume in the greatest quantities or that you find the most affordable:

  • Buy at the Farmer’s Market
  • Buy in bulk, freeze or can the excess.  Canning is shockingly easy and fast.
  • Purchase as part of a CSA (community supported agriculture)
  • Buy only when on sale and do the canning/freezing thing
  • Buy what’s in season
  • If you can’t buy in season, then buy frozen
  • If you’re willing to make one change, it should be to eat smaller portions of meat
  • Get creative – can you barter something with your local farmer in exchange for food?

Here are the lists:

Clean 15 (lowest in pesticides).  You don’t have to buy organic:

  • onions
  • avocados
  • pineapples (have to travel a long way unless you live in the tropics)
  • mangos (but travel far)
  • sweet peas (frozen)
  • asparagus
  • kiwi fruit
  • cabbage
  • eggplant
  • cantaloupe (domestic)
  • watermelon
  • grapefruit
  • sweet potatoes (I don’t know why these are safe, but traditional potatoes are not)
  • honeydew melon

Dirty Two Dozen (high in pesticides, antibiotics, or growth hormones) (buy organic when you can)

  • Beef (buy organic, grass fed or buy buffalo.  Buffalo is easy to find in the West, not so much elsewhere)
  • Chicken
  • Farm Raised Salmon (buy wild caught salmon)
  • Pork
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cow’s Milk Cheese (you can frequently get at the Farmer’s market)
  • Corn
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Blueberries (domestic)
  • Nectarines
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Cherries
  • Collard Greens/Kale
  • Potatoes
  • Grapes (imported)

Again, if your grocery store doesn’t carry any or some of these organic items, don’t be afraid to ask for them.  Grocers rely on their customers to help them figure out what will sell.


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2 Responses to Buy This, Not That. The Green Grocery List

  1. Pingback: What’s Your Green Ability Level? From Bunny Hill to Double Black Diamond | This Green Earth

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