Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Cost of the Dirty Dozen

So many opinions, even arguments, lawsuits, and sour grapes over whether or not organic produce is better for you than conventional. Before I embarked on this research and evaluation, I would have said "I would buy organic if it wasn't so expensive." But I've knowledged-up a little and found out some surprising information. Thanks to Fetch the Cookie, a pad of paper, and a little thing called Excel, I found that organic is not necessarily more expensive. If so, not by much.

In the northeast corner of Santa Rosa, California, I scoured four produce resources that I knew our readers would relate to: Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Safeway, and a little local fruit stand (Bob's Fruit Truck, to be exact). I focused my attention on THE DIRTY DOZEN. A list of 12 fruits and vegetables that are doomed by the The Environmental Working Group ("EWG") as being the worst for harmful chemical and pesticide residues.

I know what you're thinking "How can I rob my child of all those delicious pesticides, chemical sprays, and shiny wax coating?" Tough decision. Maybe we can help.

Getting back to the perceived "problem" with organic produce: The cost. I've created this spreadsheet highlighting the lowest priced organic (green box) and the lowest priced conventional (orange box). As you can easily see, there is very little difference. What I found most surprising is the difference in suppliers. For instance, we all kind of knew that Whole Foods would be the highest, right? But aren't you surprised that Trader Joe's only came in second for economical organic produce? I'm happy to report that the local fruit stand won first place! I like to give support to the farmers who grow things around here. They live here. Pay taxes here. Raise their children here. Plus they don't have to load up trucks and drive them from Mexico, or even worse, ship the crops in from Chile.
When asked, the friendly employees at Bob's Fruit Truck can tell you what farm the produce came from, sometimes just blocks away. Given the choice, with a small difference in price, wouldn't you rather buy organic and local?
Bob's Fruit Truck is located at 4358 Sonoma Highway, Santa Rosa, CA (707) 537-6686. Their deliveries are made on Friday and Monday, that's the best days to load up on your produce. However, they are open every day 9-7, except Sunday 9-5.


  1. Great idea! How about I do the same research but for the local "happy hour" scene? The cost of a pint of happy juice is different depending on the type of happy juice and the atmosphere you're looking for. I'll just need a small budget to start the research.


  2. Dear Paul,
    I haven't enough money to support your research. Perhaps some of our other readers will be willing to fund your campaign? Let's put a grant application together and run it up the flagpole.

  3. I've always been meaning to stop by Bob's, now I have a really good reason. And to have a spreadsheet to illustrate, I'm in heaven! ;)