Selective Organic Shopping

February 14, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Nearly two-thirds of American shoppers bought an organic product in the past year, and organic products often cost 50 to 100 percent more than their conventional counterparts. Experts say the extra money is worth it sometimes -- but other times it's not. Experts say the extra money is worth it sometimes -- but other times it's not.

"I think cost is the only barrier for people, because I think people are pretty logical, and they don't want to be eating things that have negative health effects on them," Katherine Kenwell Cich, an organic food expert at Feel-Rite Fresh Markets in Buffalo, N.Y., told Ivanhoe.

Cich believes in organic produce -- but if you're pinching pennies, she says consider selective organic shopping.

"If you are only going to buy so many dollars worth of things, then you are going to go with the one that is most heavily sprayed," Cich said.

Peaches, apples, grapes and raspberries are heavily sprayed, and 90 percent of strawberries have unsafe levels of pesticides. Imported coffee is another product to consider buying organic. It's treated with chemicals and pesticides that are so toxic, they're illegal to use in the United States.

"You put something in the produce," Cich said. "It's porous. It's getting absorbed into the flesh of the fruit or vegetable."

You can skip the organic versions of pineapple, oranges, kiwi and bananas. Fruits with thick peels already have few pesticides. The most contaminated veggies are peppers, celery, potatoes, carrots and greens.

There may be no need to pay for organic onions, broccoli, cauliflower or corn. These are some of the least-sprayed vegetables, but Thomas Mang, Ph.D., an associate professor in the School of Dental Medicine at the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, N.Y., says it's unclear what level of pesticides is safe.

"Basically, we are the experiment," Dr. Mang told Ivanhoe. "We're learning as we go along how much will accumulate in our systems and what the ultimate health effects are."

Unless organic prices drop, being selective may be the only option for cash-strapped shoppers.



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