To organic or not to organic?

On May 29, 2012 by Andy Bandy Man

Street market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia - selling fruits such as rambutan, jackfruit, lychee and durian


Sometimes it’s really tough to buy organic produce – especially when, say, 3 organic tomatoes cost more than an entire Chipotle burrito! On days like that I just want to eat my damn burrito and not think about where it came from.

But there are valid reasons for trying to eat organic foods; people are increasingly becoming concerned about the damage that pesticides cause consumers, farm workers, and our water supply. Recently published academic research backs up these suspicions: in March, a team of respected doctors and endocrinologists published the results of a 3-year study, and wrote: “Whether low doses of endocrine-disrupting compounds influence human disorders is no longer conjecture, as epidemiological studies show that environmental exposures are associated with human diseases and disabilities.” One of the main “endocrine-disrupting chemicals” they studied was the pesticide atrazine, widely used in corn production.

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that eating fruits and vegetables slathered in chemicals is bad for you!

If money is no object, it’s true – local and organic is usually the best tasting and the best for you (just ask any chef, and they’ll say the same thing). But here at the 20′s Survival Guide, we know that money doesn’t grow on trees; we want to make sure you don’t go broke trying to buy organic. Thanks to the non-profit Environmental Working Group, we have a list the “cleanest” (least amount of pesticides present) and “dirtiest” (highest amount of pesticides present) fruits and vegetables for 2012. Here is our recommendation for reducing pesticide exposure at the lowest cost:

  • Only buy organic version of fruits and veggies on the “DIRTY DOZEN” list.
  • For everything else, it’s your choice whether you want to shell out the extra bucks for organic. Items appearing on the “CLEAN FIFTEEN” list below are the safest to buy non-organic.



  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale / collard greens



  1. Onion
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet Potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms



Was this article useful? Does talking about “organics” make you feel like we are snobby Portlandia? (I think Portlandians are not the only ones buying organics though – organic food is a $31 billion industry in the US as of 2011). Please leave comments so we continue providing you with the most interesting and practical content!

3 Responses to “To organic or not to organic?”

  • I found this article to be helpful. I’ll definitely be purchasing organic versions of the dirty dozen.

  • Hi Ian, thanks for stopping by! Glad you found the article helpful

  • I think that the most important thing to rebmemer is that if a food has a skin that you take off before eating it offers you a safer alternative. Understand that the plants that the fruits or veges come from are sprayed with the chemicals so no harvest is safe from all pesticides unless it comes from unsprayed land with unsprayed plants with all natural water and with no exposure to harmful O2. So realistically get what you can and feel good about it because anything is better than nothing!

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