Organic Produce Shopping 101

Learning the Dirty Dozen

In our article, The Farmers’ Market Shopping List, we outlined what produce to purchase when this Spring & Summer. This yummy list of produce still makes our mouths water and our food editors get excited about all the new summer recipes they are dying to try! Choosing to buy local produce is a great way to support local farmers,reduce your carbon footprint (just think of how large the footprint is of produce shipped in from Chile to a large grocery store versus produce picked off the vine and walked to your local produce stand) and a way to ensure fresh fruits and veggies versus days or weeks old wilting produce.

Local, however, does not mean it is pesticide free. Remember to ask your local farmers if they practice organic or pesticide free farming. Pesticides are harmful in many ways and range from harming the biodiversity in insects and other wildlife around the farm to harming you and your family causing a number of illnesses including cancer. So making the choice to purchase organic is a great choice for both your family and the environment.

When it comes to organic produce, the price can be about 10% to 20% higher than produce grown using other chemical methods. Purchasing all your produce from organic farms can get pricey and the extra 10% to 20% can add up on your yearly grocery bill (especially with large families). To help keep your cost down purchasing produce in the month that it is ripening locally is a step to keeping down your cost - so make sure to refer to our list. Another way to keep down your cost and introduce your family to organic produce is to know “The Dirty Dozen”.

The Dirty Dozen are the top 12 items found in the produce section that contain the most pesticides in them according to the USDA and the FDA. Knowing them and making the choice to purchase them from organic farms, will go a long way to supporting the environment and keeping your family away from those nasty pesticides, plus they are also the most popular produce shopped.

But don’t fret that your favorite and most basic produce is off limits - just look to your local produce stand and be in the know as to which stands stock organic or are even certified organic stands! You just need to be in the know, and we are here to help.

The Dirty Dozen (starting with the worst):

  1. Peaches - start purchasing these locally in July
  2. Apples - can be purchased locally from April till October
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers - start purchasing these locally in July
  4. Celery - start purchasing locally in July
  5. Nectarines - grab these in August from the local stand
  6. Strawberries - another June purchase
  7. Cherries - start purchasing these in June
  8. Kale - purchase locally in June
  9. Lettuce - June is the month to purchase Lettuce Locally
  10. Grapes - Another August purchase when looking for them locally.
  11. Carrots - start purchasing locally in July
  12. Pears - August is the month to purchase pears locally

Happy Shopping!