Pamela Riemenschneider, Aisle Wandering
Pamela Riemenschneider, Aisle Wandering

Last 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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