Whether you agree with the Environmental Working Group’s mission or not, the “Dirty Dozen” is a powerful tool – a shopping list for consumers.
Are they entry-level organic consumers? This list prioritizes their organic conversion. Are they committed organic consumers? This list tells them what they’re not buying if they can’t find it on your shelves.
I did a few informal polls among Facebook and friends from an online mom’s forum. I asked:
If it’s on the Dirty Dozen list and you can’t find it in organic do you:
Skip it entirely
I don’t care about the Dirty Dozen
The majority of my mom friends said they’d skip it entirely, which is troubling to me – and the produce industry.
So, continuing with my ultra-formal research, I went shopping to see if I could buy all 12 (actually, it’s 14 when you count the two extras the EWG included this year) in a reasonable shopping trip in the Kansas City area. I visited two stores, Hen House in Shawnee and Whole Foods in Overland Park.
I tried Hen House first to see if I could get all 12 (14) of the list at a “regular” grocery store. I couldn’t. I consider this to be a pretty nice store in a nice area, and they carried five of the 14 items in organic.
Whole Foods had all 14 items on the list, but I suspect that’s not the first stop for most consumers.
Want to know something else? If you want to stick to the list, you’re going to have to shell out some money – about 65% more, in fact. Sweet bell peppers and cucumbers were the worst offenders. A single organic sweet bell pepper will set you back $6 at Whole Foods, compared to less than $2 conventional. A single organic cucumber is $3, compared to 99 cents at Hen House.
At those prices, I’d find an alternative. I like sweet bell peppers, but I don’t $6 like them.