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Bianca Knows Best ... And Prevents Cancer

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Dear Bianca,

A family member recently contracted cancer, and she blames harmful chemicals in her food.

Whether or not the chemicals are really the cause of her cancer, it made me think about the way I eat and more importantly, the way I feed my kids. The problem is organic produce is so expensive. Do I have to buy everything organic or are some items more toxic than others? Is there a place to find cheap organic produce in Memphis?

-- Cheap But Trying to Be Healthy

Dear Cheap,

Good for you for deciding go organic. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are associated with cancer, Parkinson's disease, mental impairment in kids, and infertility (though sometimes that's not a bad thing -- we could use a little population control).

Not only is organic produce potentially better for your health, it's also great for the environment. Industrial agriculture pollutes farmland and the environment downstream.

Though organic produce is often more costly, the prices have dropped considerably in the last few years. Now some items are only a few cents higher than their pesticide-laden counterparts. For low prices on organic produce in Memphis, I've found Kroger to be the best bet. However, some Kroger stores have a better selection than others. If you're not a Wal-Mart hater, they've got low prices on organics as well.

The good news is you don't have to buy exclusively organic. The EWG recommends you buy certain items organically due to higher concentrations of pesticides, but they also suggest a few items that are not as toxic as their conventionally grown counterparts.

Here's a list of what you don't really need to buy organically: asparagus, avocado, banana, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, kiwi, mango, onion, papaya, pineapple, and sweet peas. (For a list of 45 fruits and veggies ranked according to their pesticide load, check out the EWG's website.

Got a problem? Bianca can solve it. Send advice queries to bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

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