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On Apr 26, 2012 11:35AM ET in Green 101
Everyone’s catching on: it’s not smart to be eating chemical preservatives and ingredients if you can possibly help it. Organic food sales are up nearly 10% this year according to the Organic Trade Association’s new report. There’s plenty of room for growth: only 4.2% of American food sales are organic.
Search the Practically Green actions database for the word “ORGANIC” and you will retrieve 132 suggestions of what to do. Pick from Give an eco-friendly gift (5 points); Eat at a local, sustainable restaurant when traveling (10 points); Switch to organic or at least natural deli meat (10 points); Buy organic fruits and vegetables for the Dirty Dozen. That last one is worth 50 points, which tells you it packs impact. Here’s why the Dirty Dozen it is such an important action, and how to be all over it:
Why This is Green
The Dirty Dozen is a catchy name the Environmental Working Group has given the twelve conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that have the highest pesticide levels—even after peeling and washing. The EWG says that by avoiding the Dirty Dozen—or eating organic versions of them—consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by almost 80 percent. They update the list yearly, basing it on tests for pesticides on produce collected by the USDA and the FDA.
Pesticide exposure has been linked in various studies to cancer, nervous system damage, and reproductive issues. Pesticides have been shown to cross the placenta during pregnancy. A study from the University of Washington (Seattle) found that preschoolers fed conventional diets had six times the level of certain pesticides in their urine as those who ate organic foods. Another report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detected twice the level of some pesticides in the urine of children as in that of adults. Minimizing exposure is a smart precautionary measure.
In 2011 the list included apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines (imported), grapes (imported), sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries (domestic), lettuce, and kale/collard greens.
Stick the Dirty Dozen in your wallet to refer to when shopping.
It can be challenging, both logistically and financially, to only eat organic food. Happily, organic produce is increasingly available at grocery stores, natural food markets, and farmers’ markets.
Inexpensive ways to stock up on organic produce include buying a CSA farm share, joining a food co-op, reducing the amount of packaged food you eat, and growing your own.
- Practically Green: Taking Responsibility, Nourishing Hope–53 Experts Give Advice On Healthy, Green And Sustainable Lifestyle Choices
- Practically Green: Organic Food Rules! Review The Dirty Dozen
- Food News: EWG’s Shopper’s Guide To Pesticides
- About.com: Top 12 Fruits And Vegetables You Should Buy Organic
- EPA: Human Health Issues–Pesticides
- Oprah: Is Organic Food Worth The Price?
Are we missing something? Suggest a Product or an Action: Email Nikita on email@example.com)
P.S. check back soon, because Alexandra Zissu and her content/science team are adding more actions as fast as they can to keep up with user suggestions!