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Adlen Robinson: How to buy organic produce on a budget

When it comes to eating organically grown fruits and vegetables, the most commonly asked questions I get are: Is it worth it and how can you afford to buy organic produce when you are on a budget? The answer to the first question is a resounding “yes.” The answer to the second question is, you have to be strategic. Let me explain.

Organically grown foods have not been sprayed with harmful pesticides and chemicals. They are also not grown in soil that has been contaminated as such. 

2019 Dirty Dozen:

• Strawberries

• Spinach

• Kale

• Nectarines

• Cherries

• Apples

• Grapes

• Peaches

• Pears

• Tomatoes

• Celery

• Potatoes

• Hot peppers

2019 Clean Fifteen:

• Avocados

• Sweet corn

• Pineapples

• Sweet peas (frozen)

• Asparagus

• Kiwis

• Cabbages

• Cauliflower

• Cantaloupe

• Broccoli

• Mushrooms

• Honeydew melons

Would you rather eat food that has been sprayed with chemicals or food that has not been sprayed? I am pretty sure your answer is the latter. Who in the world wants to eat chemicals? And who wants to feed chemicals to their families?

Organic fruits and vegetables are more expensive than their conventionally grown counterparts — that is just the truth. 

Have you heard of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen? The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit organization that independently tests fruits and vegetables every year to determine which ones have the highest concentration of pesticides and which have either none or only trace amounts. 

I love these lists because they help you prioritize which fruits and vegetables you should strive to buy as organically grown and which ones are probably safe to buy as non-organic produce. If you are new to the world of organics, this is a great way to start.

One of my friends has been trying to make the conversion to all things organic and she called to tell me how frustrated she was because organic produce doesn’t have the same shelf life that conventionally grown produce does. That’s true. 

When there are no chemicals and preservatives sprayed on fruits and vegetables, they go bad sooner than their sprayed cousins. So, that means when it comes to eating organic produce, you need to do some planning. 

Take a little extra time to plan your weekly menu. If you will be eating out, map that out on your weekly menu plan so you don’t buy too much produce you can’t consume in a week. 

Definitely check out organic frozen produce. It is a bit more expensive than conventionally grown produce, but not that much more. When it goes on sale, stock up. 

Of course use the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 as your guide.

Definitely shop locally when possible. We are lucky to have some terrific farmers markets around, and most of the farmers truly try to grow their produce organically. 

Even those who are not certified “organic,” which is expensive to do, will tell you their practices. All of the farmers I have met are so excited to share their organic beliefs and practices and most welcome you to visit their farms. I love that.

I am a big believer that consuming organic produce is important for your health and also just tastes better — please take a few minutes to consider the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen and revamping your eating plan. 

Don’t miss my food column this Friday. Some simple and delicious one-dish-wonders are on deck.

South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at