Not everyone can – or wants to – buy everything organic. In some cases, you simply can’t find organic options, or you may just not want to foot the bill if it costs more. This is not a new topic here, but one that needed a little updating. So here we go!
Dirty Dozen List
Every year, the Environmental Working Group puts out what they call the “Dirty Dozen” list. What lands on this list can change slightly from year to year – hence the need for my updated blog post. The Dirty Dozen list is a great way to prioritize what to buy organic. It tells us the top 12 conventionally-grown crops that have the most chemical pesticide residue left on them when purchased and consumed. These unwanted chemicals can be avoided if organic is chosen instead.
For this reason, I drive twice as far to pick my strawberries from the organic farm in our area. And whenever I buy applesauce or even apple juice, I always choose organic. This list (as well as their Clean 15 list) can really help simplify your decision-making at the grocery store. But it’s also important to remember that it’s better to consume conventional fruits and veggies as opposed to none at all!
High-Risk GMO Crops
GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) refers to crops whose DNA have been modified to produce genes, and therefore traits, not found in nature. For example, instead of a chemical pesticide being sprayed ON the crops to ward off pests, some GMO crops actually produce the pesticide IN the plant itself. It’s not something I personally want in my food! Which is why I like to refer to the list of high-risk crops that is put together by the Non-GMO Project group to help us.
This one is a little trickier. Although corn is listed, it’s not trying to warn us about corn on the cob per say. But it’s more referring to the plethora of additives developed from corn. We’re talking about everything from obvious ones such as High Fructose Corn Syrup to less obvious ones such as Maltodextrin. For a complete list of highly processed additives produced from corn, go here.
Since GMOs are currently not labeled in our country, the best way to avoid them is to buy organic. Hence my reason for adding them to my “What to Buy Organic” list above! The good news is, if you avoid highly processed food in general, you’ll be avoiding many of – but not all – the GMOs out there since they are not quite as prevalent in real food (except for the cases of papaya and squash). I think it’s also worth noting that, contrary to popular belief, wheat is not one that is commonly genetically modified.
I hope this helps make food shopping a little easier for you. Are these lists new to you or something you already use as guidelines?