This post is dedicated to my friend Sonia Chun. I remember when I was shopping for you and thought to myself, "I know Phil loves his potatoes but do they really have to be organic?" You sparked my curiosity and now my family is eating a little bit healthier. You make me want to pray more, too. Thank you!
I've heard that we don't need to buy everything organic. But how the heck are we supposed to know what to buy and what not to buy? Here are some basic guidelines from the EWG (Environmental Working Group), the latest "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" list.
I used to have three grocery lists - Shoprite, Costco, and HMart (major korean supermarket chain). I was avoiding a fourth for so long because of cost but now my priorities have shifted a bit and I now have a WFoods/TraderJoe's list. The Dirty Dozen fruits & veggies now go here. When I see the non-organic dirty dozen with cheaper prices and looking fresh and yummy, I do get tempted. Who wants to go to another store in the middle of our busy days? But then I think back to this video and keep on walking down the aisle. If time and money is really a concern, I just opt for a less pesticide ridden option on the Clean Fifteen list.
The full list of 50 or so fruits & veggies can be found here.
Update: I want to note that list is not perfect. From what I've read, the EWG bases this list on (1) the number of pesticide residues found (2) the percentage of samples with pesticide residues, and (3) the total amount of pesticides detected. It does not take into account how toxic the pesticides are nor the toxic organic pesticides used on organic fruits & veggies. Are you surprised that there is no simple straight forward answer? Course not.
In an ideal world, we would all just grow our own fruits and vegetables. I do want to start a small garden sometime in the near future. Plus, it's so much yummier. Or we would shop only at local farms where we could ask farmers what kinds of pest control and chemicals they use. Anytime we can do this, great! But realistically, our options are:
(1) blindly just eat what's cheap and easy with no concern for our health - But we're past that already, yes?
(2) buy everything organic - Then I've at least eliminated the synthetic pesticides, right? I wish I could afford to do this but I can't. And I need to still save to buy organic meats!
(3) just stick to this EWG list as a guideline
It's about progress, people, not perfection. And what's most important is eating more fruits & veggies overall. Let's just keep trying new recipes and including more nutritious foods into our daily.
Oh and there are also many Asian fruits and vegetables that aren't even included in this list. Again, I'm aiming for improvements and realistic, doable changes. So for now, I will continue to buy my bean sprouts and Korean melons from HMart and get my organic dirty dozen from Whole Foods or wherever else I can find them.