Which is better: organic produce in plastic or conventional w/o plastic?


We’ve spent the past 4 weeks diving into the main practices of SHOP NAKED and I’ve been BLOWN away at how you’ve embraced it. Every time you bring your own tote bag, let loose with your produce, buy in bulk, and BYO container for take out food, you’re making a powerful statement. These choices support your health by reducing your exposure to toxins in the packaging that leach into the food you consume. These choices also help protect our environment and decrease what we send to landfill. Finally, they demonstrate the demand for more sustainable options. This demand helps create real change! This is exciting!
And, have you noticed yet that you’re making healthier food choices without focusing on food as much? Have you noticed that by avoiding plastic packaging, you’re naturally loading up on more fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains than before? These are the BEST side effects of reducing waste and of shopping naked. You naturally gravitate toward the perimeter of the supermarket and load up on the most nutrient dense foods.
This brings me to a question I’m asked frequently (and that my mom reminded me of other day). I asked my mom if we had celery. She excitedly responded “Yes!” and proceeded to pull out organic celery wrapped in plastic from the refrigerator…You can imagine my reaction.


I was so happy to have celery to pair with my Greek Skordalia recipe that I didn’t get into it. Later that day, she said: “Abby, if you’re at the supermarket and have the option between organic celery in plastic and conventional celery not in plastic, which do you choose?”
EXCELLENT question, Mom, and a really difficult one to answer. Choosing between toxic plastic and toxic pesticides and herbicides is not ideal.

Over the years, I’ve come up with my system for making this choice and lucky for you (and my mom, hi mom!), I’m sharing it today.
First, I’m quickly going to discuss the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that nearly 70% of samples of conventionally grown produce contained pesticide residue! Unsurprisingly, these pesticides harm our health and the environment. Because the amount of residue found varies dramatically depending on the type of produce, the EWG determines which fruits and vegetables have the most and least pesticide residue. Those with the most residues land on the Dirty Dozen list and those with few, if any, make up the Clean Fifteen list.
Here are the 2018 lists for you:


I use these lists to decide between organic produce in plastic and loose conventional produce. Here's how:

First, I determine whether the produce is on the Clean Fifteen list

  • If it's on the Clean Fifteen list, I buy it loose (no plastic) and I’m not too concerned that it's not organic

  • If not, then I determine whether it’s on the Dirty Dozen list

    • If it’s on the Dirty Dozen list, I decide whether there’s any other loose organic or loose Clean Fifteen produce I can substitute.

      • If there is a suitable substitute, I buy the substitute

      • If there isn’t and I need that ingredient, I buy the organic option in plastic and properly dispose of the plastic when I’m home. (Stay tuned for how to do that next week!).

So, based on this system, my mom did well by choosing the organic celery in plastic because celery is on the Dirty Dozen list! Go mom! 🎉 🥳

I hope this helps and I can't wait to see how you #shopnaked this week! Tag me @abbysfoodcourt and use #abbysfoodcourt and #shopnaked on Instagram for a chance to be featured on my account!

Health & Happiness,

nutritionAbigail Cannon