What should I buy organic, and what isn’t such a big deal?

You’ve heard of the “dirty dozen,” the fruits and vegetables that test highest for pesticide sprays. Top of the list is PEACHES. My suggestion? Plant a peach tree! I have three. Here are the others in the top 12 to buy organic or grow yourself, wherever possible:



Bell Peppers










Spinach has moved down on the list, out of the top 12, which is nice. Sometimes I get taken to task by those who buy ONLY organic produce for not being a purist on that topic.

Here’s what I have to say about that: if you can afford to buy all organic, that’s EXCELLENT, go for it! But I am above all trying to bridge the gap here for the majority in the middle, who have to balance health concerns with budget restraints. I always say, remember (a) that animal protein and processed food have higher pesticide concentrations than conventional produce, and (b) almost all the studies documenting the powerful effects of fruits/vegs in our diet were done using CONVENTIONAL produce. Therefore (c)  don’t avoid eating produce  (and eat something else) because you are afraid it may not be organic, but (d) wash your conventional produce well using a good fruit/veg wash.

Here’s the bottom 12 of the produce ranked by the Environmental Working Group examining 87,000 studies by the FDA and USDA between 2000 and 2007. These would be produce I would feel more comfortable about buying conventional and washing well:







Sweet peas (frozen)




Corn (frozen)



Interestingly, tomatoes didn’t make my “Safe Dozen” list, but if I’d made a “Safe 13,” it would be on the list.

May I make another summertime suggestion: when you cut up your melons, rinse the flesh before cutting it up, because the knife slices through the pesticide-coated rind, and those chemicals end up on your fruit.

16 thoughts on “What should I buy organic, and what isn’t such a big deal?

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  1. Robyn,

    I didn’t quite understand your remark about tomatoes. Do you think it is wise to buy them organic, or simply not necessary?


  2. I was wondering if you can blend the skin of the mango (after a thorough washing) in your smoothie, or not. Crossed my mind this a.m. as I added mango flesh to mine.

    Also, what are your thoughts on Diatomaceous Earth (shell flour – silica)? A friend recommended it to me, but I am uncertain that it is something I should include in my diet. Is it safe? effective?

    BTW, many people are asking when our products from the bulk buy will be arriving. Have you started shipping out yet? Anxious to spread the health…

    Thanks, Cheryl

  3. What I meant about tomatoes is that they rank fairly low on the pesticide lists I see, so therefore they are pretty safe.

    Cheryl, I use diatomaceous earth in my long-storage grains and believe it to be safe/harmless.

    The bulk buy items have shipped for all but one large order through Oct. 15. We are later in shipping than I’d hoped because almonds came out of the trees late in California due to weather and the shippers were backed up. So my trucks have been waiting and waiting and we are behind where I’d like to be (all the OTHER products are here). Thanks for your patience.

    Sasha, bananas are protected by such a thick skin. I consider them safer than most fruits for that reason.

    I don’t know if mango skins are edible.

  4. Thank you so much for encouraging people to buy organic. In thinking about which organic products to buy, consider this: instead of focusing your organic purchases on a particular group of items, choose organic versions of the products you buy most. Whether that is milk, produce, or personal care products, buying organic will not only help reduce your exposure to harmful synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, but also support a system of agricultural management that is great for the planet.

  5. From what I’ve gathered on the internet, mango skins are edible, but contain a potential allergen. So, you should test your reaction before eating them in quantity.

    I blend them in my smoothies. It saves so much time.

  6. Sasha, well, what is “safe?” If you were asking me if it’s safe to eat chemicals, of course I’d say no. But what I always say is this: better to eat conventional plant food and wash it well, than to not eat the plant food (and eat something else instead, which is always going to be worse). And set a price point that you feel you can afford relative to your budget. (50% more is worth it for organic? 25% more? 75% more? This will depend on your budget.)

    I soak my nuts, and they come out of a thick shell, so to me that makes tree nuts a much safer food to eat even if they’ve been sprayed (because that would be prior to being shelled).

    Now there are purists on this site, people who won’t eat anything organic. I am not one of them, though I value their opinions. (And then I continue to try to walk that balance between helping people eat high nutrition on a budget.) They may want to point you to a link telling us how terrible conventional tree nuts are. But that’s my $0.02.

  7. Robyn, thank you for your time.

    I checked some organic stores here in Toronto. None of theme keep nuts in fridges. I heard it’s the only way nuts should store. Our organic stores don’t sell unshelled nuts. For some reason I think unshelled nuts can lust longer without refrigerating. That’s why I chose unshelled conventional nuts.

  8. You are preaching to the choir on this one! I find a great way to cut costs on organic veggies is by buying what’s in season locally.

  9. This is about pesticide residue concentration – however, also consider that if a food is not organic, it is likely to be GMO, have internal chemicals from soil fertilizers as well as pesticides, since the plants soak it all up, AND will have highly reduced nutrients. You may be getting bulk and chemicals in the bulk (can’t wash that out!) for your money but not nutrition.

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