Best shopping tips for organic produce

LOS ANGELES Buying organic means you generally pay a premium. But with money so tight these days, what should be at the top of your list? Eyewitness News teamed up with /*Consumer Reports*/ to help you sort out the choices.

In the grocery store, many people are pulled two ways. Organic fruits and vegetables are good for you and the environment, so we want to buy them. But the cost is a deterrent. Consumer Reports has some advice on how best to spend your money.

"Almost any fruits or vegetables grown organically have environmental benefit," said Urvashi Rangan, Consumer Reports. "They use less pesticides, less chemicals, but if you can't buy everything organic, there are ways to prioritize."

Your dollars will generally have the biggest health impact with softer-skinned fruit, like berries, grapes and cherries -- and some things you're unlikely to peel, including peaches and pears.

And for things you might eat a lot of, like celery, carrots, and apples, buying organic is also a good choice.

"Lettuce and kale are other good organic picks, since some greens grown conventionally can be more contaminated with chemical residue," said Rangan.

For health reasons, there's less need to buy organic versions of produce with skins or outer leaves you don't eat, like bananas, pineapple, and onions.

Whether you buy organic or not, it's important to wash any produce really well.

"You don't need a special wash, but think about using a brush, especially on hearty vegetables like potatoes or carrots," said Rangan.

Another way to stretch your organic dollars: Buying fresh fruits and vegetables in season, when prices are lowest.

One more piece of advice: Consumer Reports says make sure you wash all produce, organic or not, even if it's marked "pre-washed" or "triple-washed." Their tests have found bacteria that indicate poor sanitation in bags of pre-washed lettuce.

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