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Q&A: Best choices for organic food

Buy organic food wisely

Organic foods are often expensive. Which foods do I need to buy organically?

This answer comes courtesy of Food Network Kitchens:

"Last year we introduced the Environmental Working Group's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, the list of most- and least-contaminated produce items to help you decide where to spend your organic-food budget. The group continues to conduct research on contamination levels in popular fruits and veggies. Here's the latest update.

"This list was created to help shoppers make informed choices about the produce they buy. Organic produce gets pricey and this type of list can help shoppers decide where their money is best spent (buying organic fruits and veggies when they are in season helps, too).

"According to the Environmental Working Group, consumers can lower their consumption of pesticides by four-fifths by avoiding the top 12 most-contaminated items — celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, kale/collard greens, potatoes and grapes. Buy organic versions of these to avoid the pesticides.

"As for produce items with the least amounts of pesticide residues — a.k.a. the "clean 15" — the top 10 have remained relatively unchanged while numbers 11 through 15 got shaken up. Papaya, broccoli and tomatoes have fallen out of the top 15, while cantaloupe, grapefruit and honeydew melon have joined the list: onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, mangoes, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potatoes and honeydew melon. You don't need to buy organic versions of these fruits and vegetables."

Updates to CPI calculatins

Is the Consumer Price Index figured differently now than, say, in the 1970s? I know the price of food, gas and some services are up, but there hasn't been an increase in Social Security in two or three years.

There have been several improvements to the way the Consumer Price Index has been calculated, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the government agency that calculates the CPI.

For example, in 1978 the BLS enhanced its methods of selecting the goods and services to be included in the CPI sample. In 1999, the BLS adopted a "geometric mean" formula to measure price change within most CPI item categories. A supplemental measure of price change, called the chained CPI-U, was introduced in 2002 that was designed to more closely approximate a cost-of-living index.

The chained CPI-U does not replace the measures of price change already produced by BLS, BLS economist Ken Stewart told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A list of many of these improvements can be found in Table 1 of chapter 17 of the BLS Handbook of Methods, which can be found at

Q&A: Best choices for organic food 07/31/11 [Last modified: Sunday, July 31, 2011 4:30am]
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