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!)

4 thoughts on “Is Buying Organic Food Always Necessary?

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  1. 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?

  2. 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!

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