Become a savvy grocery shopper

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The Environment Working Group's (EWG) 2010 Shopper's guide to pesticides has been redesigned into the "dirty dozen and cheat sheet" by the blog My Paper Crane to help shoppers identify what purchased goods should always be organic, according to food news blog Slashfood on May 3.

Both lists are designed to be easy, free downloadable tools to help food shoppers be both healthy and savvy about organic fruits and vegetables. EWG's original guide with the dirty dozen and clean 15 list is expected to be released as an iPhone application version later this year.

The list was "based on data from nearly 96,000 tests for pesticide residues in produce conducted between 2000 and 2008 and collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration" and EWG researchers also "found that people who eat five fruits and vegetables a day from the Dirty Dozen list consume an average of 10 pesticides a day," whereas "those who eat from the 15 least contaminated conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables ingest fewer than 2 pesticides daily."

Here is what you need to know. These foods, known as the dirty dozen, should always be organic and remember to ask your local market or supplier if they were transported in a pesticide-free truck (ranked worst to worse): celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, kale, cherries, potatoes and imported grapes. The modified list by My Paper Crane leaves off kale and blueberries and includes pears and raspberries.

These low pesticide foods, referred to as the clean 15, don't necessarily have to be organic, ordered from best to better: onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, mangos, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potato, and honeydew melon. Again the modified version has slight differences, tomatoes, broccoli, papaya and bananas made the list instead of grapefruit, honeydew and cantaloupe.

Andrew Weil, MD, renowned medical expert and author of books on natural health and wellness had this to say about the list, "making healthy food choices is simple, especially if you have the right tools to guide you down the produce aisle. I'm thankful that there is an organization like EWG that can provide this easy-to-use list so we can all shop smarter, save money and be that much more healthy - and happy."

Weil continued to explain how pesticides and their residue can lead to various health problems as they are "toxic to the nervous system, disrupt endocrine function and may increase cancer and chronic disease risks."

Since buying organic can be difficult due to price or availability, Weil recommends not eating any of the produce on the dirty dozen list if you can't find certified organic.

There are some other foods that you may want to buy in organic form according to Greenopolis, a green living site. To learn more go to: http://greenopolis.com/myopolis/blogs/aresende/what-you-should-shouldnt-buy-organic

To download EWG's list and listen to Weil, go to: http://www.foodnews.org

For a copy of the more visually appealing version of the list, visit: http://www.mypapercrane.com/blog/?p=2135

Check out the label report card by Greenerchoices.org: to help you identify and understand what all the varying organic labels mean: http://www.greenerchoices.org/eco-labels/reportProductArea.cfm?productArea=Meat&mode=view

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