Green Living: Eating Clean On a Budget

Eating clean – it’s the best and most clear cut way to describe what it means to limit your intake of pesticides. There seems to be an ongoing debate in mainstream media whether eating organic food actually makes a difference. A highly referenced 2012 Stanford study claims that there are no obvious health benefits to eating produce labelled organic. Can that really be so? Has history not taught us that ingesting insecticides, among other chemicals, causes increased risk of cancer, birth defects, and other health issues?

hunter hills csa beets

Beautiful beets grown on a friend’s “beyond organic” farm in rural Pennsylvania.

If you’re anything like me you too are skeptical of recent headlines counterclaiming the benefits of eating organic. If you’re also like me, you know that choosing the big O also means paying significantly more for your fresh greens and fruits. So what’s a budget conscious health savvy vegetarian to do?!

Let me introduce you to the saving grace of shopping organic: The dirty dozen and clean fifteen. If you’re anything beyond a green living novice, these two lists are probably already part of your shopping arsenal. But if they’re not – be ready to take screenshots of the graphic below.

So what are these lists? Each year the EWG, aka Environmental Working Group, puts out a list of the 12 crops that have tested highest on the pesticide scale, as well as the 15 that are lowest.

August smoothie

August enjoying an organic kale and blueberry smoothie. 

Why bother? The EWG, like many other organizations devoted to protecting our health knows that not everyone can afford to feed their family if they’re only buying organic.To help the average American consumer, they publish these two annual lists to help you make the best possible choices while at the grocery store or farmer’s market each season. It’s their way of saying, “Hey you! You can skimp on those onions but definitely shell out the cash for the strawberries.” See? So helpful, right?!

There you have it! My first, and favorite, clean eating tip for those of you who are pinching pennies like me. I have lots more up my sleeves, so make sure you follow my blog for more ideas down the road. And if you hadn’t heard of these two lists before, mention it in the comments below! It will help me gauge how helpful these tips really are.

Happy shopping (and eating)!

ewa shopping guide

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