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February 14, 2006

The February 2006 issue of Consumer Reports provides shoppers tips on buying organic without breaking the bank. The investigation finds that shoppers do not need to buy organic foods across the board to get added health value. The article tells shoppers which organic products are worth seeking out—and which ones are not.
According to Consumer Reports, consumers can pass on organic seafood and shampoo because their labels can be misleading. Organic products worth buying to avoid chemicals found in the conventionally produced versions include fruits and vegetables (e.g., apples, bell peppers, cherries, strawberries). USDA lab testing reveals that even after washing, some fruits and vegetables consistently carry much higher levels of pesticide residue than others. Meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy products are also worth seeking out. Organic products worth buying only if price is no object include processed foods and certain produce items, such as sweet corn, broccoli and sweet peas.
The article also found that because of inconsistent and often weak government standards, organic-sounding labels could be confusing to consumers and even meaningless on some products due to lack of enforcement. Even among the most meaningful and verified organic labels, there are subtle but important differences. Consumers should be aware of the definition of specific terms such as “organic,” “natural” and “all natural.” The complete report is available in the February issue of Consumer Reports, as well as online as www.consumerreports.org.

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