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Organic Produce vs. Conventional – Cost Comparison

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In honor of Meatless Monday I wanted to share with you a comparison of the cost of  organic vs. conventional produce.  Using the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) list of the 2011 “Dirty Dozen” I gathered the cost for each item and listed it for you below.

A couple of notes: 

  • The higher an item is ranked, the larger the number of pesticides are found in it (ex: Apples have the highest pesticide content).
  • Prices listed are the “regular” prices, weekly sales and seasonal items were not taken into account.
  • All items listed are the fresh variety, not canned, pickled or frozen.
  • Every effort was made to compare “apples to apples” in terms of size, weight, packaging, etc.
The Dirty Dozen Cost To Buy Organic Cost To Buy Conventional Cost Difference
1 – Apples      
    Fuji $2.99/lb $2.29/lb $0.70/lb
    Gala $2.99/lb $2.29/lb $0.70/lb
    Red Delicious $2.29/lb $1.99/lb $0.30/lb
2 – Celery $2.99/bunch $1.99/bunch $1/bunch
3 – Strawberries $4.99/lb $3.79/lb $1.20/lb
4 – Peaches NA in fall season   NA
5 – Spinach $3.99/ 5oz. ($0.80/oz) $3.69/6oz. ($0.62/oz) $0.18/oz
6 – Nectarines (imported) NA in fall season   NA
7 – Grapes (imported) NA $2.79/lb NA
8 – Sweet Bell Peppers      
    Red Bell Pepper $3.99/each $2.99/each $1/each
    Green Bell Pepper $1.99/each $1.49/each $0.50/each
9 – Potatoes      
    Russet $1.99/lb $1.19/lb $0.80/lb
10 – Blueberries (domestic) NA $4.99/lb NA
11 – Lettuce      
    Romaine $3.99/12oz. ($0.33/oz) $3.79/16oz ($0.24/oz) $0.07/oz
    Spring Mix $3.99/5oz. $3.69/5oz. $0.30/per 5oz. package
    Green Leaf Lettuce $2.79/head $1.99/head $0.80/head
12 – Kale/Collard Greens $2.99/bunch $1.99/bunch $1/bunch

 How can you shop smarter?

  • Become familiar with your store’s organic section!  Most people avoid this area all together because they think buying organic is too expensive.  Cruise this section first while shopping to see if anything is on special, or just looks good!  Typically stores will put all of the organic items together in one area, which makes it convenient to see what they have, but it makes comparing prices vs. the same conventional produce more time-consuming.
  • Look for weekly sales.  Even organic produce goes on sale.  For example: Now is the time to stock up on APPLES–I’ve seen organic varieties sold for less than $1.50/lb!
  • Think QUALITY when it comes to QUANTITY.  If there is a particular food that you eat every day, you may want to make sure to invest in the organic version – for me this is carrots!  Even though they aren’t a “Dirty Dozen” vegetable I always buy organic carrots, since I eat them almost every day. 
  • It’s ok to go “half & half”.  Don’t feel guilty if you don’t buy everything organic, every time you shop.  When you can fit it into your budget and your menu, do it!  Every little bit will help.

How do you shop for organic produce?  Have any tips to share?  Leave a comment if you do!

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