Red, White, Green?

organic vs commercial produce: pay the price?

I buy organic as often as possible because produce grown organically is much easier on the earth. However, I often wonder whether it’s worth the extra money to get organic with regards to pesticide residue and for my family’s health, not just the Earth’s health.

One source for this kind of evaluative information is the Environmental Working Group. Its Web site lists 44 fruits and vegetables ranked by the amount of pesticide residue each contains and they offer a small wallet guide with the rankings. Knowing which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticides and which are cleanest can help you decide when to buy organic.

The EWG’s “dirty dozen” are peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, grapes (imported), pears, spinach, and potatoes. The “cleanest 12″ are onions, avocados, sweet corn (frozen), pineapples, mangos, sweet peas (frozen), asparagus, kiwis, bananas, cabbage, broccoli, and eggplants.

Food for thought: The best choice for the health of your family and the planet may not be between organic and commercial, but local and exotic. The best choice is to purchase food produced locally by frequenting local farmers markets; even better to choose locally produced organic goods. Where I  live the soil is some of the best in the world–the flood plain here is several miles deep–plus we have generous weather with lots of sun, temperate days and the rare night of freezing weather. (Of course the region is essentially a desert with under 15″ of annual rainfall a year!)

And a few questions for me to find more about: how green is wine? which wines, red or white, are greener? does organic make that much of a difference–either for my health or the planet’s? which winery businesses and agricultural practices should I support with my purchases? how much does it really cost the planet to drink wines produced on another continent? what does it mean that imported grapes on the the dirty dozen list?