The following fruits and vegetables are known as "The Dirty Dozen*" they contain the most pesticides or the most potentially dangerous pesticides. When possible I try to choose their organic counterparts:
- Grapes, imported (Chili)
- Bell peppers
The following fruits and vegetables are the least likely to contain dangerous amounts of pesticides. Buy the non-organic form and wash well to save some money at the checkout counter.
How to save money buying organic food:
- Comparison shop in local grocery stores.
- Take advantage of local farmers' markets: Many farmers do not charge a premium.
- Order by mail: Products such as organic beef can be shipped nationally.
How to protect yourself from “non-organic” pesticides:
- Buy fresh vegetables and fruits in season. When long storage and long-distance shipping are not required, fewer pesticides are used.
- Trim tops and the very outer portions of celery, lettuce, cabbages, and other leafy vegetables that may contain the bulk of pesticide residues.
- Peel and cook when appropriate, even though some nutrients and fiber are lost in the process.
- Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. This would limit exposure to any one type of pesticide residue.
- Purchase only fruits and vegetables that are subject to USDA regulations. Produce imported from other countries is not grown under the same regulations as enforced by the USDA. Examples are strawberries and cantaloupes from Mexico.
- Wait until just before preparation to wash or immerse your produce in clean water. When appropriate, scrub with a brush. Experts at the University of California-Berkeley report that this removes nearly all insects and dirt, as well as bacteria and some pesticide residues.
- Special soaps or washes are not needed and could be harmful to you, depending on their ingredients. Read the label! Cold water is perfectly fine.
- Trim the fat from meat, and fat and skin from poultry and fish. Residues of some pesticides concentrate in animal fat.
For more information on healthy eating, visit Joy Bauer’s Web site.
© 2007 MSNBC Interactive