One of my little frugal dreams is to one day walk into a store and see plump juice organic strawberries for very little cost. That dream may have a hard time being actualized, since organic strawberries, even when in season, can get expensive. Conventional strawberries, on the other hand, may be on sale or even available as a “loss leader,” an item that the store loses money on in the hopes of getting shoppers in the door.
Still, it is a rare day when I buy conventional strawberries. They are just too high on the list of produce with the most pesticides. Did you know that the list (called the Dirty Dozen) gets updated each year? New items get put on, others slip lower or drop off completely. A sister list, called “The Clean Fifteen,” notes the produce with the least amount of toxins.
If you are concerned about toxins in your fruits and vegetables, then paying attention to these two lists will save you money. You can choose the bulk of your produce from the Clean Fifteen, paying conventional prices. Since items on the Dirty Dozen list should be purchased at the more expensive organic prices, you can limit those to treats or splurges when you get a good deal. You can also decide to grow some produce yourself, or purchase it from a local farmer. Sometimes local farmers may use organic practices but not go through the expense of official certification, passing the savings to you.
To help you make good choices with your organic produce budget, I’m passing on the current and updated lists for this year:
Dirty Dozen 2013
Sweet bell peppers
Clean Fifteen 2013:
Sweet peas (frozen, since they’re more readily available)