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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pears consistently show high levels of pesticides when tested.
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
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
Keeley graduated Summa Cum Laude from Seattle Pacific University with a Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition and a Dietetics Specialization. She went on to complete her dietetic internship at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, where she received the Distinguished Dietetic Intern Award and Scholarship.