Organic foods get a lot of buzz for their lack of chemical pesticides, but you can save money and avoid pesticides by buying certain conventionally grown fruits and vegetables found in the regular supermarket produce aisle.
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To help prioritize your food dollars, here's the current list of the "Clean 15" - the best conventionally grown produce to buy, as determined by the Environmental Working Group upon examining the U.S. Department of Agriculture's produce-sampling tests.
You can slash your pesticide consumption - by nearly 80% - by eating the following "clean" conventionally grown choices while also avoiding the 12 most-contaminated fruits and vegetables, the organization says.
You can feel comfortable buying the following fruits and vegetables in the the regular produce section since they're lowest in pesticides: 1. Onions 2. Avocado 3. Sweet corn 4. Pineapple 5. Mangos 6. Sweet peas 7. Asparagus 8. Kiwi 9. Cabbage 10. Eggplant 11. Cantaloupe 12. Watermelon 13. Grapefruit 14. Sweet potato 15. Honeydew melon
It's not that the "Clean 15" always contain no residue of fungicides or insect killers - it's just that the best choices often don't. Onions, asparagus, sweet corn, pineapple, mango and avocado had no detectable pesticide residues on at least 90% of produce sampled by the government, according to EWG. Most cabbage sampled (82%) had no detectible pesticides. Ditto for eggplant (75.4%).
Bottom line: You can save money by buying the fruits and veggies on this list and putting your savings toward produce that is more important to purchase organically if you want to limit how much pesticide you inadvertently consume. Among other reasons, many pesticides disrupt male hormones, new research shows. If money is no object, go ahead and always buy organic.
"If customers are concerned about pesticides in general," EWG spokesman Alex Formuzis tells Consumer Ally, "then they should buy organic for as many foods as possible."
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