15 Foods to Buy Organic

Written By: Keeley Drotz, RD

Title: Registered Dietitian

Alumni: Seattle Pacific University

Last Updated on:

New organic foods are appearing daily. Our choices now include organic cereal and butter – even chocolate. Most families cannot afford to go completely organic. But which foods should you buy organic whenever possible, and which are okay to buy non-organic?

15 Foods to Buy Organic

Meat, Dairy, and Eggs

Organic meat, milk, and eggs are free of antibiotics, added growth hormones, and pesticides. Unlike their conventional counterparts, the animals used for organic products are raised without antibiotics or hormones. Chemicals present in animal feed can end up in conventional meat, dairy, and eggs. However, organically raised animals eat an organic diet that does not contain pesticides or fertilizers. That’s why the top three items on our buy-organic list are:

1. Meat including Beef, Pork, Chicken, and Turkey

2. Milk and Dairy Products

3. Eggs

Fruits and Vegetables

The fruits and vegetables listed below have high levels of pesticides even after being washed, so these are a priority for buying organic. Most are thin-skinned, making them very susceptible to contamination. In general, produce with thicker skins retain less pesticide residues. According to the Environmental Working Group, the following items contain the highest concentration of pesticides.

4. Peaches and Nectarines

Peaches require a large amount of pesticides to grow conventionally and have extremely delicate skin, making them the top organic fruit pick – with nectarines not far behind.

5. Apples

Apples are the second priority when choosing organic produce, as their pesticide loads consistently test high.

6. Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are the number one vegetable to buy organic. They have thin skins and are heavily sprayed with insecticides.

7. Celery

Celery lacks a protective outer layer and needs many different chemicals for conventional growth, making it number two on the list of vegetables to buy organic.

8. Strawberries

Strawberries rank high on the organic priority list. They are treated with very large amounts of pesticides, including fungicides. When purchased out-of-season, they probably come from a country with inadequate pesticide regulations.

9. Cherries

Cherries continually rank high for pesticide contamination.

10. Lettuce and Spinach

Lettuce and spinach are often found to have high levels of various pesticides – sometimes very potent types.

11. Imported Grapes

Imported grapes are likely to have higher pesticide levels than domestic. Vineyards may be sprayed with a number of different pesticides throughout the growing season. Because grapes have a permeable skin, even peeling will not eliminate the residues.

12. Pears

Pears consistently show high levels of pesticides when tested.

13. Potatoes

Potatoes are at high risk for pesticide contamination and may also be affected by chemicals, such as fungicides, in the surrounding soil.

Other top buy-organic foods

14. Coffee

Conventional coffee farming depends heavily on pesticides and herbicides. Furthermore, coffee is typically grown in countries where these chemicals are not strictly regulated.

15. Baby Foods and Juices

Whether you make your own baby food or buy commercial varieties, organic is best for your little one – especially when you’re using the items listed above.

Safer Non-Organic Foods

Not all foods have to be purchased organic. Packaged or highly processed foods such as chips, pasta, bread, cereal, oil, and canned or dried fruits and vegetables don’t have a difference in safety and nutrient values between organic and non-organic versions. Other produce that are ok to buy non-organic include:

  • Fruit: pineapple, mango, kiwi, banana, mango, papaya, blueberries, watermelon
  • Vegetables: onions, avocado, sweet corn, sweet peas, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, eggplant


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