Organic vs. Conventional Fruits and Vegetables – When is Spending More Worth the Money…

By Sijun Li

The frugal savvy experts at Miss Money Bee are all about helping our readers save money –now and in the long run.

Not too many people think about the potential health risks of buying groceries.  After all, fruits and vegetable are beneficial to our lifestyles, right?

While fresh produce certainly beats out fast food burgers and fries on the health factor, they can still pose hazards. With the rising cost of doctor visits, hospital bills and medicine, it’s crucial to prevent risks to one’s longevity.

Recent tests from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and FDA have found detectable pesticides on 68 percent of food samples.  That means more than two-thirds of all the fruits and vegetables at groceries stores are coated with toxins that can yield dangerous health problems. So the question arises of when is it smart to buy organic vs. conventional fruits and vegetables.

The Environmental Working Group just released its 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The guide features the “Dirty Dozen,” which lists the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residues, as well as the “Clean 15,” which lists the fruits and vegetables with the least.

Among the top three “dirtiest” foods are apples, celery and sweet bell peppers. The Environmental Working Group says these foods, among the others on the list, contain highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. While many of these toxins have been banned from agriculture, they still show up on food crops.

The Natural Resource Defense Council says children are more susceptible to the toxic effects of pesticides. The council has collected data which recorded higher incidence of childhood leukemia, brain cancer and birth defects.

In the Environmental Working Group’s study, it was also found out that popular baby foods contain organophosphates. Green beans used in baby food tested positive for five pesticides, and pears prepared as baby food yielded significant and widespread contamination. Fortunately, sweet potatoes had virtually no detectable pesticide residues.

In order to lower the risk of potential health problems, The Environmental Working Group recommends buying the Dirty Dozen foods organically to avoid ingesting dangerous chemicals.  They urge consumers to lower pesticide eating the least contaminated produce, which by the way, turned out to be onions.

To see the complete Dirty Dozen and Clean 15, visit the  2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.