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Go Green or Bust? When to Buy Organic

Pesticides, parabens, phthalates, oh my! You know you should go green, but living eco-friendly 24/7 can be pretty rough on your wallet. (Little known fact: "Organic" is Latin for "expensive.") The truth is, while there are a few arenas in life where you should shell out for the greenest label possible (spinach, we're looking at you!), there are also products you can safely skip. Read on and let us navigate you through the eco-green waters.
Swiss Chard Unpeelable Produce

Verdict: Go green

Fruits and veggies that can't be peeled (or where you usually eat the skin) are typically coated with insect repellants -- the USDA has found 28 pesticides on conventionally grown potatoes, 39 on strawberries, and 48 on grapes and apples. Unfortunately, the substances that keep bugs off your berries have been linked to cancer, lung disease, birth defects, reproductive problems, and more, so opt organic when purchasing leafy greens, apples, potatoes, and the like; they're grown with nonsynthetic pest controls. (Always be sure to avoid the Dirty Dozen -- the most pesticide-laden fruits and veggies.)

Can't afford organic produce? Try this make-your-own wash, from Jackie Newgent, RD, author of Big Green Cookbook: Mix 1 cup each water and white distilled vinegar, 2 teaspoons each fresh lemon juice and baking soda. (Foaming may occur.) Spray and scrub with a produce brush, then rinse to shower off some pesticide residue.

You can also try shopping your local farmers' market for hidden organic gems. "Many farmers follow environmentally friendly practices but haven't completed the certification process to be considered officially organic," says Newgent. Just ask Farmer Bill if he uses chemical pesticides -- you might snag an undercover eco-friendly deal!