This summer I resolved to save a little money by cooking meals at home instead of going out all the time. Breakfast was easy: Cheerios, soymilk, banana, done. But when it came time to shop for meals at the grocery store — and not just the frozen dinner kind — I was hit with a whole new question in the produce aisle: should I buy organic produce? Is it worth the extra couple of bucks?
By now we’ve probably all heard of the “dirty dozen” — the 12 fruits and vegetables considered to have the highest levels of pesticide residue, according to the FDA (apples, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, bell peppers, celery, potatoes, and spinach). Seeing potatoes on that list worried me a lot — all those french fries I’ve been eating have probably not been made from organic spuds. Oh well. Time to comparison shop. A quick trip through the produce department of my local Sunac revealed this:

  • Apples: $1.49/lb regular, $2.99/lb organic
  • Bell peppers: $2.49/lb regular, no organic to be found
  • Celery: $2.49 regular, $3.99/bunch organic
  • Nectaries: $2.99/lb regular, $3.99/lb organic
  • Strawberries: $3.99 for a large box regular, $4.99 for a small box organic
  • Grapes: $5.99 for a bunch of organic, no regular in the store
  • Pears: these were both $2.99/lb, but the organic ones were smaller
  • Spinach: $3.49/bunch for organic (full of sand), $2.49/package regular, pre-washed
  • Potatoes: amazingly, both varieties were $.99/lb. I stocked up!! Homemade fries, anyone?

Now it’s time to do the math! My calculations reveal that microwaving Amy’s brand organic burritos ($2.49 each), while not the cost-effective idea, is the easiest thing to do. I can’t handle all these decisions. Produce is expensive, especially in Brooklyn. But the saddest part? If I really wanted to save money (pretend I’m not concerned with animal cruelty, pollution, or my health), I’d just eat a bucket of fried chicken every night from KFC. Try figuring this one out:

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