Consumer Reports has published a very useful little guide to buying organic. Realistically, very few people can afford to buy organic food all the time. So it makes sense to get the most out of your organic dollars. My rule has always been to prioritize meat and dairy, as the concentration of pesticides in animal food is greater than that in vegetable foods, and hormones and antibiotics are a concern as well. After shelling out the money for the milk and the meat and the eggs, I look for organic strawberries, bananas, apples, and peppers, as these crops tend to be heavily pesticide-laden when grown conventionally.*
Consumer Reports seems to have reached the same conclusion. The only point on which we disagree is corn. Consumer Reports is only concerned with the health consequences for the, well, consumer, not for the environment. Corn may not hold its pesticides, but those perfect ears were sprayed to within an inch of their lives. If you are concerned about the environment, buy organic corn.
I was particularly impressed to see a big mainstream publication like Consumer Reports recommend farms shares, farmers' markets, and farm-direct mail-order. A good sign, I think.
To read the guide, click here.
*I hate the term "conventionally-grown." "Conventional" manages to imply that growth hormones and pesticides are in some way more normal, more "traditional" than those crazy, wacky organic farming methods - you know, the ones that have been around since man developed agricultural? I want to see a new name, like "Chemically-dependent."