Organic produce worth an extra buck

By James Casey

It is not necessary to spend a lot of money to adopt a smart and healthy diet.

There are some instances where spending a little more right now may go a long way toward not only your future health, but also feeling good immediately. I consider myself quite thrifty: I will often spend way too much time trying to find the best deal. What’s worse is I will sometimes buy something I don’t even need if I know it’s a good deal.

You might ask how someone can justify spending more on one of two items that look exactly the same. In this case I am literally comparing apples to apples: The organic option at Schnucks cost $2.99 a pound while the non-organic cost $1.99 a pound.

I visited Duck Soup Coop to explore some of its pricier options and their possible benefits. While I was there I spoke with store clerk Cheryl Wieczorek.

“You don’t have to deal with nasty pesticides and herbicides,” Wieczorek said. “If you’re eating stuff laden with chemicals, what does that do to you?”

She handed me a small laminated card, with one side of the card reading “Clean 15.” On the other side, it read “Dirty Dozen.”

The Dirty Dozen is a list of the 12 most chemically laden produce items as determined by the Environmental Working Group’s analysis of USDA data.

Apples have been at the very top of that list for a couple of years now. Along with apples, conventionally grown celery and cherry tomatoes also contain high amounts of chemicals.

Asparagus, avocados and cabbage, however, are at the top of the Clean Fifteen, a list of the top 15 conventionally grown fruits and vegetables with the least amount of chemicals.

If you don’t want to suddenly start spending more by choosing the organic option for all of your produce, the Environmental Working Group has compiled this list to help you determine which organic foods are most essential.

Buying organic will not only limit the quantity of chemicals in your food, but it may also increase its freshness because organic produce is often grown more locally.

These differences should be more than enough to persuade anyone into coughing up an extra buck, and the benefits of buying organic go beyond individual health factors.

Supporting farmers markets and co-ops like Duck Soup will also reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted during processing. There is less energy consumption in the transportation and refrigeration of food when it is grown closer to home.

On top of that, organic choices help to support a way of life for local farmers. Unlike conventional produce, many organic options are grown by local, small-scale operations.

With all of these factors in mind, I paid the extra dollar. I hope you will do the same.