The "Dirty Dozen" is a list put out annually by the Environmental Working Group that lists the top 12 produce items to buy organically based on pesticide residue found. Along with this list is a list is the items with the lowest pesticide residue, the "Clean 15." If you are trying to avoid pesticides organic is the way to go, however it can be expensive. This list helps consumers prioritize purchases of conventionally grown foods to best meet both health and budget considerations. It is better to eat conventionally grown produce rather than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.
Another great way to buy organic is to buy local. Many small farms do not use pesticides. Often these small markets cannot afford an official designation as "Organic," but if you ask the farmer you will learn about their practices and learn that they do not spray or use synthetic fertilizers.
So, what is the difference between organic and "Organic." This is actually a lesson that I teach my students and we start with the USDA organic labeling law. Food is big business and the laws are actively changing. If you are the type that likes to keep on top of the latest news and read the technical data the NOP Newsroom will keep you busy!
These days it is just as important to have a good local farmer as it is any other professional, like your banker or lawyer. Take a day and find your local markets and farms and change your buying habits. Your buying power is impacting the way producers, handlers and retailers manage your food.