About double the price and a hassle — that’s what it’ll cost you to stay away from the “Dirty Dozen” of produce.

Avoiding 'Dozen' isn't easy

Pamela Riemenschneider
Aisle Wandering

At least that’s what I found in my very unscientific attempt. Armed with my “Dirty Dozen” iPhone app, I hit the stores in north Austin, Texas, looking for “clean” produce.

I don’t want to get into an argument on the merits of the Environmental Working Group’s list — the only produce they recommend buying is organic. I wanted to try to buy it myself and see what it’s going to cost me, the average consumer, in time, effort and money.

I hit up a Randalls, which is a banner of Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway, first. I figured the area I was shopping was pretty progressive and should have the majority of these items in conventional and organic.

I was wrong.

At Randalls, I found only five of the “Dirty Dozen” in organic — grapes, spinach, apples (gala, in this case), blueberries and strawberries.

Well, I’m in Austin, right? In the home town of Whole Foods Market Inc. I should be able to find the rest there, shouldn’t I?

Nope.

At Whole Foods, I found potatoes, celery, peaches, nectarines and kale but no cherries or bell peppers.
I talked to the clerk in the department and he said they had organic cherries last week for about $4.99 a pound. The sweet bell peppers have been scarce this season, he said. The organic green bell peppers were selling for $2.99.

I spent a total of $17.49 on the conventional versions, in roughly the same amounts and prices, for the 12 items on the list.

For the organic versions, I spent $24.05. If I had been able to find organic equivalents for the amount of cherries and bell peppers I bought in conventional, you’d have to add another $11.28 for 1.23 pounds of cherries and a bell pepper for $2.99.

So, I spent $17.49 for the “Dirty Dozen” and $35.33 for the same produce in organic.

I’m going to let you decide what you want to do with that information.

For now, I need to figure out what to do with two bunches of kale, two packages of spinach, two peaches, two nectarines, two potatoes, 2 pounds of strawberries, two 6-ounce containers of blueberries, 2 pounds of grapes, a red bell pepper, 1.23 pounds of cherries and two heads of celery.

E-mail pamelar@thepacker.com

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