Your Earth-Friendly Shopping List
Although there is some debate over the health benefits of eating organic, the environmental benefits are clear. When you purchase organic produce, you are supporting organic farming methods, which eliminate the harmful use of chemical fungicides and pesticides.
Some of your favorite conventional vegetables and fruits may be among the most pesticide-laden foods on the market. Check out this list of "Dirty Dozen" fruits and vegetables, and seek out the organic versions. Organic peanut butter and ketchup are other great items to add to your list — pesticide residues are frequently found in conventional peanut butter, and recent research has shown that organic ketchup contains almost double the antioxidants of conventional ketchup.
If you're wondering which kinds of produce have the least pesticide residue, the Environmental Working Group's "Clean Fifteen" includes: avocados, sweet corn, cabbage, sweet peas (frozen), onions, asparagus, eggplant, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, pineapples, mangoes, papaya, kiwi, grapefruit, and cantaloupe.
Organic Animal Products
Eating fewer animal products is beneficial to your health and also helps the environment. The EPA has reported that certain meats are contaminated with higher levels of pesticides than some plant foods, due to the diet the animals are fed. If you choose to eat animal products, try to purchase them from local, sustainable, and organic farms. Meats you should consider buying organically include beef, pork, and poultry. Some ocean fish carry a high risk of metal contamination, and many freshwater fish are exposed to pesticides from contaminated water.
By switching to organic dairy products, you can avoid the added antibiotics, artificial hormones, and pesticides used by commercial dairy industries. You get healthier products, while supporting free-range cows. Choose the organic versions of a few foods you often eat, and you'll help keep both your family and the environment stay healthy.