When should you buy organic foods?

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on December 22, 2009

Organic foods are everywhere these days! Oftentimes they cost more, and they are definitely marketed to be healthier. The skeptics say that there’s no difference between an organic apple and a regular apple, or organic milk vs. regular milk – that it’s just a ploy to extract more money out of consumers. If that were the case, it would really be sad – all of us health-seeking consumers getting duped into buying more expensive food products without any additional value! The good news is – there have been lots of articles recently touting the benefits of organic foods – but also providing realistic guidelines about when it’s “worth it” to buy organic. This article at MSNBC.com is great – it gives a comprehensive overview of what organic means and what all the different labels mean – and what foods make sense to buy organic. I’m including the highlights in my post below, as well as some tips from another article from Shine that doesn’t focus on organic food but foods that are high in chemicals to avoid if possible.

So – what should you buy organic? There’s a simple list of 12 fruits/veggies called the “dirty dozen” – that if possible, you should absolutely buy organic. They have the highest amounts of pesticides among all the produce out there. They are:

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Grapes, imported (Chili)
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach

Milk, poultry, and meat are also “recommended” to buy organic if possible.

7 other foods to avoid are:

  • Canned tomatoes: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity
  • Corn-fed beef: A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease
  • Microwave popcorn: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer
  • Non-organic potatoes: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes—the nation’s most popular vegetable—they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. 
  • Farmed salmon: Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT
  • Milk produced with artificial hormones: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers.
  • Conventional apples: Apples are the fruits most doused in pesticides – see the dirty dozen above 🙂

Hope these guidelines are helpful – happy healthy eating!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

ozarkhomesteader December 22, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Nice post. This is why we grow as much of our food as we can ( http://ozarkhomesteader.wordpress.com/ ) and get the rest from local producers who use no chemicals. It means I don’t eat fresh raspberries in the winter, but it’s worth it.


Laura baker April 14, 2010 at 1:06 am

very good blog, keep it the good work all articles are good to read..



Brendan Bombaci July 29, 2012 at 4:28 pm

There are various fine points I have researched over the last 18 months (since my senior seminar was begun, in anthropology, with interest in security/rights of food and herbal medicine) regarding GMOs, herbicides and pesticides, “certified” organic labelling, the USFS and BLM, Codex Alimentarius standards and regulations, and more. These points are listed at the disclosed blogspot link. Please read them thoroughly and pass on the knowledge! The more people aware of these things, the better. We don’t live in the house we think we do. http://kairologic.blogspot.com/2012/07/organic-schmorganic.html


Rica @Yoga Mat Monkey May 11, 2015 at 9:52 am

My good friend is from Brazil and she recently shared a popular smoothie recipe with me. It’s simply an avocado blended with soy milk (I prefer almond milk) and a bit of sweetener (I used Stevia). As we talked and sipped, I told her about the Dirty Dozen list (she had no idea). So I popped over here to grab this list and share it with her. I knew you’d have it broken down nicely with additional tips as to what we should avoid. You’re so helpful! Thank you!


Anjali @ The Picky Eater May 11, 2015 at 1:55 pm

Awww of course!! I’m so glad this list was helpful to both you and her! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know Rica!


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