by Joanna Sciarrino, Bon Appétit
Buying organic food might just seem like the latest food trend, but there's more to it than just a USDA branding and a higher price tag. Pesticide use is so common in farming today, it's difficult to gauge precisely how much harmful chemicals we (and our children, who are even more at risk) could be ingesting on a daily basis. The benefits of going organic are widely contested because the results of many studies have produced inconclusive results. But if buying organic produce could help us reduce chemical exposure to ourselves and our children even a little, why wouldn't we err on the side of caution every time? Oh right, money. 'Cause it's darn expensive!
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To help us call the shots on when it's important to buy organic, we turn to the Environmental Working Group. The nonprofit organization specializes in research on toxic chemicals used in agriculture, and publishes an annual list of produce according to pesticide contamination called the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean 15."
Here's a quick guide to which fruits and veggies deserve the extra buck.
These fruits and vegetables are particularly susceptible to pests, so they are treated most intensely with pesticides. They also have thinner skins, or skins that are commonly consumed (or no skins at all, in the case of leafy greens like spinach), so chemical contamination is harder to either scrub off or remove entirely:
See also: Is Vegan Food Really Healthier?
These fruits and vegetables have thicker outer layers that are commonly removed prior to eating, so there's less risk for consuming chemical contamination:
These fruits and vegetables are less susceptible to pests and therefore require less pesticides, keeping the chemical contamination relatively low for produce:
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