Organic produce that pays off

July 2, 2010 8:34:09 PM PDT
Sales of organic food are on the rise, hitting almost $25 billion last year. The largest growth is in sales of organic fruits and vegetables. Buying organic means you generally pay a premium. Consumer Reports helps you sort out the choices.

Almost any fruits or vegetables grown organically have environmental benefit. They use fewer pesticides and fewer chemicals, but if you can't afford to buy everything organic, there are ways to prioritize.

Your dollars will generally have the biggest health impact with softer-skinned fruit such as berries, grapes, cherries, and some things you're unlikely to peel, including peaches and pears.

And for items you might eat a lot of, like celery, carrots, and apples, buying organic is also a good choice.

Lettuce and kale are other good organic picks because some greens that are grown conventionally can be more contaminated with chemical residue.

For health reasons, there's less need to buy organic versions of produce with skins or outer leaves you don't eat, such as bananas, pineapple, and onions.

Another way to stretch your organic dollars is by buying fresh fruits and vegetables in season, when prices are lowest.

Consumer Reports says whether you buy organic or not, it's important to wash any produce really well. You don't need a special wash, but think about using a brush, especially on hearty vegetables like potatoes or carrots.

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