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Bread and bread

(article, Kim Carlson)

You’ve read enough, heard enough, talked to enough people about organics — you’re ready to convert. You’re thinking they're better for your body and better for the earth, and in a perfect world you’d choose to buy organic products all the time. But the reality is that, as life goes, you have to settle; in this case, it's your budget forcing you to make choices. 

How can you know which organic products are must-haves and which conventional products are acceptable?

Consumer Reports, the people we turn to for advice on buying washing machines and cars, have published a guide for buying organics. Essentially, the magazine follows the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen guide, which was released in 2006. 

Consumer Reports suggests spending your food dollars on organic versions of the foods that have the most pesticides. (Hint: The highest pesticide rates are in non-organic peaches, apples, and sweet bell peppers; the lowest are in onions, avocados, and frozen sweet corn.) 

Where else can you go for information on what to buy — and what to skip? A new column on the web magazine Grist,  “Ask a Brokeass,” promises to help you eat green (organic or local) on the cheap. The first column mentions canned beans, which aren’t as economical as dried beans, but which are even greener, and certainly more economical, than organic meat (or any meat, for that matter).

Finally, the blog Gluten-Free Girl (aka Shauna James) has a couple of recent posts titled "The Way We Eat," parts one and two, about judging what other people have in their shopping carts (that's the first post) and then how to eat well for less (many good ideas in the comments on the second post). 

A reader who left a comment on the first post made a big impression on James, saying that she’d like to eat better (organics, whole grains, and so forth), but simply cannot afford to. She's not alone, as this Seattle Post-Intelligencer article points out.