Some people get rather crazy about organic vs. non organic (including me, sometimes) but the truth is you don’t need to buy everything organic. Unfortunately, organic items tend to be more expensive than the conventionally grown items which is why it is important to distinguish when it is actually worth buying organic.
The below items are primarily from the EWGs Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list. The Dirty Dozen identifies produce that contain harmful toxins (such as pesticides) that we should not be ingesting which is why it is important to buy these items organic whenever possible.
Always buy organic:
- Strawberries/ Blueberries/ Blackberries/ Raspberries – These are my favorite fruits, but they unfortunately contain the most pesticides because of their thin outer skin that the pesticides can easily penetrate. There was also a pesticide found on strawberries called Captan, which is found to cause tumors in rats and is also believed to be a human carcinogen.
- Apples – Apples are up there on the list of produce that contain the most pesticides. No matter what kind of apple (Granny Smith, Macintosh, Fuji, Gala, etc.) ALWAYS buy these organic.
- Watermelon – I would advise buying organic Watermelon whenever possible, but if you cannot then I would just make sure that you wash the outside very well and make sure that the inside fruit does not touch the outer skin when you are cutting it up.
- Peaches/ Nectarines/ Plums/ Pears – All of these fruits have thin outer layers that makes it easy for the pesticides to seep through. These are usually always consumed with their skin, so it is super important to buy organic.
- Tangerines/ Oranges – Honestly, I think that this is a fruit that you can get away with not buying organic because of their thick outer skin but I would advise to buy organic whenever possible.
- Bananas – I think non-organic bananas are also a safe bet because of their thick outer skin, but again, I would rather be safe than sorry so buy organic whenever you can.
- Grapes – These little guys were found to contain a lot of pesticides. Always buy these organic and always wash them well.
- Cherries – Cherries are tiny, but they are found to contain A LOT of pesticides.
- Sweet Potato – These are a great staple in a healthy diet because they contain 438% of a person’s daily Vitamin A, where was white potatoes only contain 1%. However, these are one of the dirtiest produce. If you cannot buy organic, make sure you peel the outer layer.
- Spinach/ Kale/ Lettuce – These three are worth buying organic because they have more surface area for the pesticides to stick to.
- Mushrooms – These are extremely delicate produce and they are found to contain a lot of pesticides!
- Zucchini – Zucchini has a thin skin and these are becoming more and more popular with the emergence of Zoodles.
- Cucumber – Always buy the organic version if you can, but if you cannot then just peel the outer waxy layer of the cucumber.
- Carrots – the USDA Pesticide Data program found that there were about 26 different pesticides on carrots.
- Tomatoes – Again, tomatoes have a thin outer layer that pesticides can easily penetrate. These can be heirloom, cherry, etc…No matter what kind of tomato, I would always advise buying organic.
- Green Beans/Snap Peas – These were on the list of dirtiest produce and I would not eat these if they are not organic because they are often found to contain more than 70 different pesticide residues!
- Coffee – If you are an addict like me, then I would definitely advise buying organic fair trade coffee. Coffee is the 3rd most sprayed agricultural crop in the world behind cotton and tobacco.
- Dairy – Certified organic dairy means that the cows were not fed any hormones or antibiotics so you should always opt for this when in the grocery store.
- Meat/Eggs – Conventionally grown meat contains hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. These pesticides found in cows, chicken and turkey comes from what they are eating. Their feed is usually grown with pesticides and fertilizers.
What you DON’T need to buy organic:
There are a few certain foods that you can get away with not buying organic. I think that the fruits/vegetables that have a tough outer skin are generally safe to buy from the non-organic section. However, the EWG says that Cabbage, Asparagus, Eggplant and Cauliflower are safe to buy conventionally grown, but I would still buy the organic version because they do not have that tough outer skin that the others on this list do.
- Cantaloupe/ Honeydew Melon – These fruits have a tough outer skin that protects the edible part of the fruit.
- Grapefruit – Grapefruits are a great source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C and the pesticides cannot penetrate their thick outer skin.
- Pineapple – Another fruit with thick skin.
- Kiwi – Pesticides are rarely used on Kiwi’s and they have another layer of skin that protects the inside of the fruit that you can peel away.
- Mango – This fruit has another thick skin that pesticides cannot penetrate and it is a great source of Vitamin C.
- Avocado – Avocados don’t need to be bought organic because of their tough outer skin that prevents pesticides from touching the inside of the fruit.
- Cabbage – The EWG found that there was little pesticide residue on cabbage, so you can buy this non-organic.
- Asparagus – Did you know that Asparagus is a cousin of onion and garlic? Well, it is. Asparagus is ranked on the EWG Clean 15 list as containing little to no pesticide residue.
- Eggplant – This was ranked on the Clean 15 list because there the pesticides do not remain on the eggplant skin.
- Cauliflower – Cauliflower was found to have little to no pesticides. I will also put a recipe up for Cauliflower fried rice that is out of this world.
- Onions – The EWG says that Onions are significantly lower in pesticide residue and you can also peel the outer layer (as we know, onions have manyyy layers)
On this EWG Clean 15 list, there is an asterisk at the bottom that I think is important to address: *A small amount of sweet corn, papaya, and zucchini (summer squash) sold in the US is produced from genetically modified seeds – to avoid this, buy these foods organic.
It’s important to be educated on the harmful effects of GMO foods and the use of pesticides on our food. Keep this list in mind the next time you head to the grocery store!