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Discover which fruits and vegetables should be eaten only if they are organic

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Pesticides, chemicals, insecticide, oh my! It's not surprising that so many of us spend more, even then we can't always afford it, on every item marked "organic" or "natural." But are you really spending your money wisely? To answer that question, the Environmental Working Group has ranked 53 foods by frequency and amount of pesticide contamination. They based those rankings on tests performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition, make sure to familiarize yourself with the meaning of the USDA Organic Certification label. Beware of labels such as "all natural," which fail to prove that they have certified as organic.

Based on their research, the following foods should be eaten only if they are organically grown (listed based on how much they are contaminated, from the most to the least):

  • apples
  • celery
  • strawberries
  • peaches
  • spinach
  • nectarines
  • grapes
  • bell peppers
  • potatoes
  • lettuce
  • blueberries
  • kale

You can save your money and time by buying these foods regardless of how they are grown, whether they're at the Farmer's Market, grocery store, or health food store. They also are ranked from the least contaminated:

  • onions
  • corn
  • pineapple
  • avocado
  • asparagus
  • sweet peas
  • mangoes
  • eggplant
  • cantaloupe
  • cabbage
  • kiwi
  • watermelon

Shopping with children offers you a great opportunity to introduce them to the meaning of "green living." Talk with them about the risks of pesticides, emphasizing the need to consider many different factors when you choose food to put into your body. By asking them to help you participate in shopping expeditions, they also will be more likely to try different foods.

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