This month’s perspective from Nutritionist Kari Grumeretz.
It’s my favorite season ……farmers market season. The bounty of fresh and local fruits and vegetables is so exciting and a great reminder that summer is here. With that I always get a lot of questions from clients about shopping at markets and grocery stores about the benefits of buying organic fruits and veggies versus non-organic. Before I became a nutritionist, I always tried to purchase only organic food regardless of the cost, thinking that these fruits and vegetables were the healthiest choices. The benefits outweighed the cost, right? But now even essential grocery items are highly priced and purchasing organic produce can be out of many people’s budgets. So is organic really necessary or are inorganic items just as good? The answer is yes and no. Here is a way to help you determine when to splurge and when you can save.
Each year, an organization called the Environmental Working Group (EWG) takes information from the Department of Agriculture, and Food and Drug Administration about pesticides used on fruits and vegetables. Based on this information, it categorizes produce into 3 categories; the Dirty Dozen, which has the highest levels of contamination, the Clean 15, which has the lowest contamination, and a middle group that falls in neither group. Purchasing organic fruits and vegetables that are on the Dirty Dozen list is going to be worth the extra money as the organic grown ones will not have the high levels of pesticides. For items on the Clean 15, produce is already lower in pesticides so purchasing non-organic is safe. Using these lists as a guide when shopping is great to understand when to spend on organic and when it is not necessary. To locate these lists, visit the Environmental Working Groups website at www.ewg.org.
As a good rule of thumb, if you can peel the fruit or vegetable you are more often than not in the clear to purchase non-organic. If you eat the fruit or vegetable whole, or consume the flesh, purchase organic.
For a list of your local farmers markets you can visit www.michigan.org/farmers-markets
Happy market shopping and happy summer!