Welcome to Green Boot Camp

Welcome to Green Boot Camp blog, a 52-week program to help you become a greener you in 2008. This is the companion blog to The Lean Green Family (formerly Suddenly Frugal).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Week Nine--All About Organics

In response to my recent posting about choosing organics at the supermarket as part of Week Nine of Green Boot Camp, a reader posted this comment:

"Some foods are more important to buy organic than others, because some foods absorb more pesticides during their growth period than others. I've heard that peaches, apples, strawberries, and potatoes are particularly concentrated in pesticides and are best to buy organic."

I've heard the same thing, too--which is why washing your fruits and vegetables is so important. But choosing organics goes beyond just a good scrub in the sink. You should find foods that don't absorb chemicals as readily as others, which is why this reader went on to ask:

"Do you know a way to find out which foods you should prioritize buying organic?"

Actually, I do.

According to the Environmental Working Group (a not-for-profit environmental research organization dedicated to improving public health and protecting the environment by reducing pollution in air, water and food), there is a clear priority list when it comes to produce and asking yourself, "Should I buy organic?" On its website, it lists the top 20 produce that is mostly likely to absorb pesticides--meaning, you should choose organics whenever buying them. They are:

1. Peaches
2. Apples
3. Sweet Bell Peppers
4. Celery
5. Nectarines
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Lettuce
9. Grapes (imported)
10. Pears
11. Spinach
12. Potatoes
13. Carrots
14. Green beans
15. Hot peppers
16. Cucumbers
17. Raspberries
18. Plums
19. Oranges
20. Grapes (domestic)

A recent New York Times blog posting discussed organics and basically said, if you're going to make the switch to organics, do so with the following five foods:

1. Milk
2. Potatoes
3. Peanut butter
4. Ketchup
5. Apples

Do they even make organic peanut butter and ketchup? That's a new one on me.

Considering I have peanut butter toast for breakfast nearly every morning, I'm going to have to go check this out. In the meantime, as you consider making small steps towards adding organic products to your shopping cart, I hope you find this information to be helpful.


devildogwife said...

I have some organic peanut butter in the pantry. You need to stir the oil back into the peanut butter. My daughter loves it. lol! Smuckers even makes an organic peanut butter now.

The organic ketchup around here is quite expensive, so I'm still looking for an affordable version. My daughter, and hubby when he's home, go through a lot of ketchup.

Thanks for the list. It's helps prioritize things for me. We're hoping to gradually make a complete switch, but sometimes the budget doesn't always allow it.

Joy said...

Thank you so much for your webpage! It's a great help for people to be able to make small steps toward a greener lifestyle. In our webpage, www.greenbabyguide.com, we believe it's possible to save time, money and the planet. My favorite tips for inexpensive organic produce is to start your own garden, check out the local farmers' markets, or head to you-pick farm in the summer.

Caron said...

I have found that buying into a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm is the best way to get a good variety of organics at reasonable prices. Last year the farm director at my CSA said that he made a comparison of the cost of a weeks worth of CSA produce with how much it would cost if you purchased the same items at the supermarket. The CSA share was 22 dollars per week vs. buying the same organic items for $70. It is good for you and the environment to support local growers. Check out Localharvest.org to find farmer's markets and CSA's near you.

Caron said...

One more quick post... I have read that it is important to purchase organic dried fruits (especially raisins). Raisins are made from grapes, which are on the list of organics to buy. Most raisins are dried on the vine and are not thoroughly washed, before drying. The pesticides are very concentrated because they are smaller and we eat more in one sitting.

Leah Ingram said...

Smuckers just sells "natural" peanut butter, not the organic kind. The Smuckers Online Store shows that its organic peanut butter is sold under the "Adams" name. It seems that Arrowhead Mills makes organic peanut butter, too.

As far as ketchup, Heinz now offer organic ketchup and so does Annie's. I'm sure there are other brands, too, which I'll keep looking out for.

Hey, maybe it's time to search these products out and do a taste test...

Rose said...

I think Teddy's peanut butter is organic, or has organic varieties. That's one that I often see at larger grocery stores.

Places like Whole Foods and Trader Joes have store-brand organic varieties of both of those things, and more. (I recently found/bought by first all-organic ketchup bottle from TJ's.)

CastoCreations said...

I am not a hippy or greenie or anything but organic foods have found their way into my house. For one thing, most organic fruits are smaller and are actually NORMAL serving sizes for people. I don't need an apple the size of my head. And I think the organics taste better too.

Our milk is organic and I LOVE it! It lasts longer and it tastes better. Sure it's more expensive but it is well worth it.

I don't have a goal of 'going green' but if buying organic means I'm part of that movement I just shrug. :)

I doubt I'll go to organic peanut butter though. I love my extra crunchy JIF too much.

I do appreciate tips and tricks for saving money - that's the only reason I'd ever switch light bulbs.

Anna said...

Caron, non-organic raisins will probably have sulphur dioxide on them as well. It is a preservative. I only buy organic raisin because they are free of preservatives and pesticides.

Heinz is now making an organic ketchup. I have also used Amy's as well.

We also used organic peanut butter. They do make one slightly crunchy. (My husband bought it by mistake b/c my kids don't like it crunchy.) You do have to stir the oil back in. The health food stores also carry a soy tasting peanut butter which isn't bad for those allergic to peanuts. It is not as fattening either.

Devildogwife, I recall that vegetarian times listed a recipe for organic ketchup if you want to make your own. I think it is this month's issue. Check your local library to see if they carry the magazine or perhaps it is online. If not "google" for a recipe. Just an idea.

Anna www.green-talk.com

Anna said...

Sorry Leah, I did not see your response about Heinz and Annie's. I have tried them both. They are both good. (I meant Annie instead of Amy's in my last post.)