"Dirty Dozen" list of foods

This Food52 column from today has some information about the "Dirty Dozen" food list:

I went to the Environmental Working Group's web site and was dismayed to see that a lot of my favorites are high on the list. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php
I wash all produce I buy, but I just can't buy organic everything. Does anyone have any information about what constitutes "a lot" of a particular food? Their FAQ link is very helpful, but I had a hard time finding more detailed info.
For example, I eat so many grapes, cherry tomatoes, and so much spinach and lettuce daily, every week, that I don't think I'll buy non-organic again. But what's a lot of potatoes? (#12 on the list... sobbing loudly!) Three? Ten?

  • Posted by: Pegeen
  • March 21, 2015


Margit V. March 23, 2015
I just think that we have to come up with solutions--maybe a bunch of us can get a piece of land and cooperatively raise the produce we need to be healthy. Sort of a "do-it-yourself" CSA. I think it can be done. You know, kale and chard plants are enormously thrifty--they keep producing all season and you can keep picking and eating, as well as freezing for the Winter. Potatoes and squash are easy to raise and store well. Read Carol Deppe's "The resilient Gardener". She also has seeds such as the pick-all greens, where you harvest all at once every 30 days or so. It's a cut and come-again crop. Margaret Roach has a very informative blog about raising food-/ she's a vegetarian. Anyway, don't despair. This is something we can figure our. For fruit, "you-pick" opportunities are wonderful resources for less expensive ways to get enough to freeze for the Winter. As for Winter, there have been many years where the cheapest veggie is cabbage, and I slice it into chicken broth, make salad, use it in multiple ways to stay healthy. Let's keep this conversation going.
Margit V. March 23, 2015
/Pegeen, eating local is really no guarantee, either. Talk with the grower to ask about what methods they use. I, too, eat a LOT of potatoes and like most root vegetables, they take up stuff from the soil. So, I never eat conventional potatoes. Or, actually, anything conventional. We need to remember that washing a veggie or peeling a fruit is no solution, either, because most take up the pesticides and other toxins in their whole being. So, an apple or strawberry or grape will have the toxins throughout the whole fruit. Why don't you look at their list of cleanest produce? You may see choices that will reassure you. (I still won't eat from that list either). But, I've had some severe health, immunity issues and have not wished to burden my body with any more issues than necessary). To get back to how to cope with the obscenely expensive organic issue: in season, I try to buy a lot when cheapest and freeze in prepared soups or serving portions(kale, for example, freeze sauced and whole tomatoes (a lot, buy directly from a trusted organic farmer and get a couple hundred pounds of potatoes that I store in my cool pantry, grow as much as I can myself, freezing herbs, pestos, greens, whatever. If I didn't have sun and space where I live, I would try to get a plot at a "community garden". Do you know how to garden? I would be happy to share resources with you, if you wish-- Food 52 could be the site for more in-depth discussion on these truly important topics. No one (I'm talking about major food bloggers) seems to ever mention the organic/ conventional issue and just happily tell people to make that fabulous peach crisp and load up on huge amounts of stuff you do not want in your or your children's bodies! I think if we face this problem head on, things may change and hopefully prices will be more reasonable.
Pegeen March 23, 2015
Margit, thank you. I think a huge issue is cost. I just can't afford to buy everything organic. I'm a decent gardener, but no longer have enough land to grow most of what I'd want to eat. And then there are the winter months...

I think it's a very good thought, to ask Food52 to think about how to start a continuing dialogue about organic foods.
arcane54 March 23, 2015
Margit, these are great suggestions. I would add food co-ops and buying clubs to the list of cost-saving approaches as not all of us can garden due to space, place or ability.
arcane54 March 22, 2015
The FAQ on the EWG site is very informative, refuting many claims by industry and growers associations, explaining their methodology for testing and including a longer list and a "clean" list. It still doesn't address your concern about how much one consumes of a favorite fruit or vegetable (I know -- potatoes -- say it isn't so). If I ate a lot of something that's high on the list, that's where I would spend my money on organic.

We try to buy OG on more "porous" items like leafy greens that have so much surface area to absorb "whatever" as well as vegetables that translocate water, food and "whatever" for the plant (roots and stems such as potatoes, celery, onions, carrots) OR if I know the growing practices are pesticide-heavy (e.g., strawberries). That said, there are times when a nearly double price for OG has me buying conventional produce.

We try to eat local, in-season food, and put up produce during the summer glut, so we eat (maybe) two pounds $3/lb OG tomatoes during the winter and LOTS of affordable OG kale, root vegetables, etc. There's something about waiting for the luscious local strawberries in June that makes eating the January berries feel like cheating. Same with tomatoes.
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