November 18, 2007

family style organics

I saw an interesting twist on organic shopping advice and wanted to share it. Many people wonder what are the most important items to buy organic. The New York Times had a piece summarizing a bit from a new book called, "Raising Baby Green", by Pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene.

Apparently he identified a way to make the biggest "green" impact on the American family diet. You can read the full summary here, but the top 5 items he suggests to get organic are:
  1. milk
  2. potatoes
  3. peanut butter
  4. ketchup
  5. apples
He takes some interesting factors into account, such as pesticide residue, family staples, nutritional benefits and crop sizes.

I always like to buy as much as possible organic (or grown with organic methods even if not certified). I figure it is the least I can do to try and help support the demand for organic produce. The more people demand it, I hope the availability will increase and the price will drop, making it more accessible to everyone. Fortunately, organic choices in my area are vast and the prices aren't so bad. I'll take note of the cost of the 5 items listed above next time I'm at the store and we can compare prices to where you are. Deal?


Behan said...

I'm not sure this list or article of Dr Greene's is all that useful, although it's interesting. But when I think about what we actually buy and eat it doesn't really help my family OR meaningfully influence how our buying choices impact the environment. I might buy ketchup once a year. It's frightening that he considers for some families "ketchup accounts for a large part of the household vegetable intake". But at that point I realize we're not the target for an article like this...and hope that his message is getting to more mainstream audience that needs it.

Meanwhile: I think a great resource for deciding what to buy organic is the list on (from the Environmental Working Group). They've got a wallet sized card of the "dirty dozen" (produce I will only buy organic) as well as those with the lowest pesticide measures. You can carry around the whole list of 43 veggies if you want. It helps me make an informed choice when the organic red bell peppers are $7.98/lb and the non-organic is tantalizingly cheap...when it's easy to reference on the card that they're among the worse offenders for pesticides, I take the budget hit or go without.

Anonymous said...

I'm game to compare.

Trouble is with that list, I dont buy half those items. Not ketchup or peanut butter. And in the fall we eat enough apples that I know I can't afford organic. Plus we try not to use potatoes too often. *sigh* Sucks to be on one income for trying to go green. Expensive stuff.

Debbie said...

The cost is a huge factor for us, too. I really find using the Dirty Dozen list from EWG (that behan mentioned) helpful when making decisions about what to buy -- organic peppers? Yes. Organic bananas and onions? Not always. I watch for organic milk to go on sale and then buy a bunch at once since it usually is good for a month or so. And I try to buy local from farm stands as much as I can, especially for things like apples (which we also eat a lot of).

Our bigger problem is availability. I was at a local big-name grocery here in CT yesterday, and the pickings were slim. A bag of organic apples (pre-packaged) and some lettuce. That was it. At another big-name grocery last week, they had organic peppers, but they were also pre-packaged -- in styrofoam and plastic wrap no less! Ugh.