It wasn’t that long ago that the only places you could go for organic produce were home gardens, occasional farmers’ markets, and specialty health food stores. Over the past decade, however, the heightened eco-consciousness of the green movement and health concerns about chemicals used in conventional farming have led to increased demand for fruits and vegetables grown without synthetic pesticides, artificial fertilizers, irradiation or biotechnology. Organic is now the fastest growing sector in the food marketplace and you can find organic products at nearly every local supermarket.
In addition, research is supporting the theory that chemicals used in conventional farming can have a negative impact on health. Consumers are making the choice for organically grown food and consumer products to help decrease their exposure to environmental toxins. “We have seen a marked increase of customers asking for “handmade soaps crafted the old-fashioned way, using organic and high quality natural essential oils, herbs and botanicals,” says Sujoy Bhattacharya, Founder and CEO of Falls River Soap Company, a small business located in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, “people are increasingly aware of Triclosan, Dioxane, Sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), Diethanolamine (or DEA), Formaldehyde, Parabens, Fragrance, and PEG-6 are part of the soap making process for many popular store bought brands and are looking for a healthier alternative.”
Despite being more widely available, the cost of organic produce can be as much as 40% higher than conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, placing it outside the budget for many consumers. However, going organic does not have to be an all or nothing proposition – you can selectively purchase organic or natural products. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes an annual Shoppers Guide to Pesticides based on lab tests conducted by the USDA Pesticide Data Program.
According to the EWG, you can lower your pesticide consumption by nearly 80 percent by avoiding the 12 most contaminated conventionally grown fruits and vegetables (referred to as The Dirty Dozen) – choosing to eat the least contaminated produce available. When you eat fresh produce from the Clean 15 (the least contaminated fruits and vegetables), you’ll be exposed to fewer than 2 pesticides per day, compared to as many as 67 pesticides per serving found in the Dirty Dozen.
The Dirty Dozen (products you should always buy organic)
Celery (most contaminated)
The Clean 15
Onions (least contaminated)