Dirty Dozen search yields surprising bargains

06/17/2011 09:29:00 AM
Amelia Freidline

Pamela Riemenschneider, Aisle WanderingLast year, when the Environmental Working Group released its annual “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides,” also known as the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15,” I went shopping to find them.

I couldn’t imagine most reasonable shoppers were walking in with this list in hand, planning to only purchase the organic versions of these fruits and vegetables.

Turns out, even with a trip to Whole Foods, I could not find all 12.

Cherries, which were in season at the time, and sweet bell peppers eluded me.

What I did find cost more than twice as much as their conventional counterparts.

So this year, I thought I’d try again.

I went to a Price Chopper in a pretty nice neighborhood in Overland Park, Kan.

There, I found very little organic produce.

I found:

  • organic celery for $2.49 compared to $1.99 for conventional;
  • organic strawberries for $3.99 a pound compared to $2.50 a pound for conventional;
  • organic spinach for $3.49 for 5 ounces compared to $2 for 10 ounces for conventional; and
  • organic blueberries for $3.49 for 6 ounces compared to $2.49 for 18 ounces for conventional.

Just like last year, the standard neighborhood store carried only four of what I needed so I headed to the Whole Foods about 15 blocks away.

Here’s where Whole Foods blew my mind.

Since when is this place so cheap?

Bargain prices?

I’ve read a lot about Whole Foods positioning itself as more of a value for shoppers, trying to drop that “Whole Paycheck” stigma, but had yet to see it in person.

My Dirty Dozen price comparison was shocking.

Organic grapes were $2.99 a pound, the same price as conventional grapes at the other store.

Peaches and nectarines were $2.99 a pound, the same as the conventional versions at Price Chopper.

Cherries were even more of a value.

At Whole Foods, organic cherries were $5.99 a pound, the same price as conventional cherries at Price Chopper.

Conventional cherries were $4.99 a pound at Whole Foods, a dollar a pound cheaper than the other store.

Whole Foods also had a 2-pound clamshell of blueberries for $5.99, which was cheaper than my husband paid for the same clamshell (even the same shipper) at Costco the day before.

Maybe I need to shop around more.

I can handle that.

pamelar@produceretailer.com

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