Is Buying Organic Food Always Necessary?

Think buying organic food is going to blow your budget?

Let’s set aside the argument that eating whole food pays back in higher energy, and lowering disease risk and healthcare costs.

You’ve got a budget, and let’s face it, buying organic food will chip away at it more quickly than conventional food. Did you know you can prioritize which foods are MOST important to buy organic, and which are LEAST important?

(And you can put your pen down–I’ve got a free downloadable wallet card with all the info, so you don’t have to take notes!)

The “Dirty Dozen” And Other Foods To ALWAYS Buy Organic

The “Dirty Dozen” is a ranked list put out by the Environmental Working Group, of produce most contaminated by pesticide.  It changes a little year to year, but the same culprits tend to show up time and time again:

  1. Dirty Dozen foods to buy OrganicStrawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet Bell Peppers
  12. Potatoes

Those are no-brainers. Choose organic every time.

The Dirty Dozen isn’t the whole story, though, and pesticides aren’t the only culprit to watch out for–here are more foods to put on your ALWAYS ORGANIC list:

Leafy Greens: The demand for prewashed, organic leafy greens has increased availability and pushed the organic price down–now, the organic choice isn’t much higher than conventional.  Besides, with greens being such a large percentage of a healthy whole-foods diet (what’s a green smoothie or salad without them?), you want the cleanest source possible.

Coffee: Coffee is one of the most sprayed crops on the planet. With 12 billion pounds of coffee being produced each year, that’s a lot of herbicides, pesticides, and additives. Buying organic is better for you, AND for the environment.

Eggs: The natural omega fatty acid balance is so disrupted in conventional eggs that it’s the reverse of what is healthy.  It should be 6:1 Omega 3’s to Omega 6’s. But it’s the opposite in conventional eggs, and folks eating the SAD are already far out of balance.  Choose organic eggs for a more natural ratio.

Meat: If you’re going to eat meat, always choose clean, organic sources. Organic livestock is raised without antibiotics and steroids, and have access to the outdoors. Their feed cannot contain animal by-products or GMO grains, or be grown using non-organic fertilizers. Look for free-range poultry, and grass-fed beef. Butcherbox offers clean, organic options–and if you order here and use coupon code GSG, they will apply a $10 discount to your box and include free bacon (uncured and sugar free). 

Dairy: If you can’t do without dairy products, make sure they’re organic, for the same reasons you want clean meats.  The best organic dairy comes from grass-fed animals.

The “Clean 15” And Other Foods You DON’T Need To Buy Organic

The “Clean 15” is the other side of the Dirty Dozen coin: EWG says this produce is least likely to be contaminated with pesticide, and is generally ok to buy conventionally:

  1. Clean Fifteen foods that you do not need to buy OrganicSweet Corn (non-GMO)
  2. Avocados
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Papayas
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangos
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew Melon
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Grapefruit

I’ll add a few more grocery items to the list of non-organic foods to purchase:

Other foods with thick skins or rinds, which can be removed: Melons, citrus fruits, bananas, squashes.

Quinoa: The tough outer coating is nearly impermeable to pests, so growers don’t spray it.

Maple Syrup: It is usually forest-harvested from untreated trees.

What about foods not on either list? Read labels, and use good judgment. When in doubt, go organic when your budget allows (and maybe even grow some of your own veggies!).

Now, for your GIFT! I’ve got this great, free wallet card to print and take shopping with you. On one side is the Dirty Dozen and other foods to always purchase organically, and on the other side is the Clean 15 and the other foods you can get away with purchasing conventionally.

Get it here!

(Don’t want to print?  Let me do it for you!  The wallet card is included in the Genius Guides!)

15 thoughts on “Is Buying Organic Food Always Necessary?

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  1. Don’t you think that cleaning and boosting and sealing it is the most important first objective so you your gut your immune system can take care of itself. Yes you have wonderful ideas and real food start but why would you always want or desire for a powdered drink . Eggs mind you are the healthiest protein , your body with proper starting point of your gut and urging out the garbage that western civilization has dogmented into our brains so that we continue this circle and really never have our selves to take care of ourselves not pharmaceuticals gaining money from our ockets . Hey but you’ve lost weight and your family is doing great hey great job really it’s hard work. But how long will this actually last because where did you start .

  2. I’m a nurse and try to educate patients about GMO. Most people think it means they have crossed DNA of plants together and that makes them GMO. OVer 30 years ago corn was genetically modified. That means that the pesticide was placed in the DNA of the plant. People need to realize that they are eating the pesticide. Also plants that are GMO also have terminal seeds so you can’t save the seed from plants and replant the next year. My Dad was a farmer and many years ago explained to me what would eventually happen to our food supply. Also GMO crops are sprayed for weeds. They use a chemical called Dicamba. This chemical drifts onto non GMO crops and kills the non GMO crops or affects the crop by reducing the yield from that crop. This ultimately takes money out of the pockets of NON GMO Farmers. I encourage all to educate themselves on this subject regarding the crops. This ultimately affects us all.

  3. In today’s busy era everyone prefer online shopping. Its has many benefits like time saving, quick and easy. We are able to find many products under one shopping website. Try to buy organic food from website that are near to your locality and offering fresh food items.

  4. It’s actually a myth that the Clean 15 is somehow pesticide free. It’s not, these numbers are relative, and it’s these types of lazy regurgitated posts that give people the false sense that they are somehow safe. Cantaloupe has been found to have an average of 11 pesticide residues…check the facts. And cabbage also has 11.

    Pesticides are also highly harmful to the environment, birds, and bees.

    The notion that a peeled fruit is somehow untouched by the pesticides they are grown in is ludicrous. Pesticide reside and its effects, like depleted soils, are very much still within the food. This is just plain negligent advice to people who are truly trying to live healthier lives.

    1. When someone is making the switch and working toward change, it is important that they have permission to take one step at a time and not have to do a complete switch that can be overwhelming. So, yes, organic is best… but if someone is not eating veggies at all introducing any fruit/veggie is a step in the right direction. processed foods —> can veggies —> frozen veggies —> commercial veggies —> organic veggies. Begin where the person you are working with is currently in their journey. Make gradual changes that can positively impact your life 20 years down the road.

      Do the best you can with what you know, when you know more, do better.
      Making one degree of change today will prove itself greater 1, 5, and 10 years from now.

    1. Organic starts with 9 conventional starts with 4 and I think GMO starts with 8. Organic and GMO will have 5 numbers because they had the 9 or 8 before the other 4 numbers, hope that helps

      1. I’ve heard that 9 at the beginning of the number means organic and 8 means GMO. Who knows anymore what is truth and what is fiction.

  5. Even with the Clean 15, there are still pesticides used, and this is damaging to the planet and other species, not just your health. If you are spending money on stuff you don’t need (cosmetics, household cleaners, furniture, clothes, shoes, facials, manicures, jewellry, crap, crap, and more crap), stop, and start spending your money on organic, ideally locally grown food. Everything else is secondary.

    Great site Green Smoothie Girl!

  6. What about sweet potatoes? Are they in the “potato” category that is heavily sprayed? May be a dumb question, but I love sweet potatoes so I want to make sure. I have a pretty strict budget. Also, how do we know the grass they are using for grass-fed animals is not heavily sprayed and chemically fertilized? Does this not matter?

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