When Not to Buy Organic

  • Cheap But Clean

    Grocery shoppers often pay premiums for organic fruits and vegetables if they’re especially concerned about the use of pesticides and other chemical residue sticking to the skins and rinds of their produce. But you don’t necessarily have to go organic to avoid the chemical. Certain non-organic fruits and vegetable are known to have very little chemical additives, sometimes none at all, according to the Environmental Working Group, an organization working to protect public health and the environment. Here’s a list of produce that tends to be low or free of pesticides, followed by a short list of items that tend to be very high in chemical additives. Photo Credit: mckaysavage
  • Onions

    If you’re a fan of odorous onions, you don’t need to pay up for the organic kind.  They made it to the top of the Environmental Working Group’s list of fruits and vegetables that are the lowest in pesticides. In addition, they’re believed to have bacteria-fighting properties and have been used to treat colds, coughs, asthma and poor appetite, to prevent atherosclerosis and to repel insects. Photo Credit: Darwin Bell
  • Avocados

    Avocados have also made EWG’s list of foods with the smallest amounts of pesticides, so going organic may not be necessary here either.  These buttery beauties were once looked down upon for their fattiness, but their natural oils are actually high in cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  Plus they pack protein and vitamins A and C. Photo Credit: Ms. Tea
    Sweet Corn
  • Sweet Corn

    Corn may be high in carbohydrates, but it’s also very high in fiber.  And despite their nooks and crannies, it has also made the EWG list of cleanest produce, which is based 87,000 tests for chemical residue in fruits and veggies. Possibly because of the glossy finish on each little kernel, corn doesn’t retain residue nearly as much as, say, a fuzzy peach. Photo Credit: ~ezs’
  • Asparagus

    Asparagus isn’t just low in bug-killing chemicals, it may even provide an enzyme that breaks down the common pesticide malathion, according to WebMD. And these spears, whether green, white or purple, are high in fiber and a good source of potassium.  What’s more, they’re only four calories a spear according to the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board. Photo Credit: Woodleywonderworks
    Sweet Peas
  • Sweet Peas

    Sweet peas, like those found in your grocer’s freezer, also made the EWG list of produce that you don’t have to buy organic. As long as they’re properly washed, sweet peas carry little to no detectable levels of pesticides. Photo Credit: Muffet
  • Cabbage

    Whether you’re thinking of trying the cabbage soup diet, making sauerkraut, borscht, kimchi or another cabbage dish, there may be no need to worry about pesticides that might be lingering on the cruciferous vegetable’s leaves, according to the Environmental Working Group.  In fact, they may even help you fight off cancer-causing substances, according to the Baylor College of Medicine. Photo Credit: net_efekt
  • Eggplant

    More than 75% of eggplants tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration were found to have no detectable level of pesticides, and of those that did have pesticides on them, it would be rare that it would be more than one kind, according to the Environmental Working Group. Photo Credit: Davitydave
  • Broccoli

    With a good washing, broccoli isn’t likely to retain pesticides, according to the Environmental Working Group.  And since pesticides can cause fetal and early childhood development problems, washed broccoli might be one of the healthier choices for kids and mommies-to-be. Photo Credit: VirtualErn
  • Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are a popular choice for backyard gardening, and flavorful organic heirloom tomatoes are delicious if you can afford a splurge. But if you don’t have a green thumb or enough green in your wallet to get the fancy organic stuff, regular tomatoes at the grocery store could be just fine.  Whether you’re serving them atop a salad, in a sauce or any other way, tomatoes are among the fruits and vegetables the least tarnished with pesticides. Photo Credit: Vvillamon
    Sweet Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes

    These fall favorites for holiday sides and pies are among the fruits and vegetables least likely to be contaminated with pesticides, according to research from the Environmental Working Group.  So let’s hope this sugary sweet tuber doesn’t go the way of corn in the production of ethanol causing prices to spike. Photo Credit: Carl E Lewis
    Dirty Peaches
  • Dirty Peaches

    Luscious peaches are among the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables found to retain pesticides, according to Environmental Working Group research.  Nearly 97% of peaches tested by the USDA and the FDA were found to test positive for pesticides, according to the group. Studies were even conducted after fruits and vegetables have been washed or peeled. Photo Credit: Lepiaf.geo
  • Apples

    “Apples are threatened by more than 40 different insects, diseases, fungi and other conditions that attack the tree or the fruit that it produces,” according to the U.S. Apple Association.  So it may not be much of a surprise that apples are some of the most likely fruits to still have pesticide residue on them when they get to your fridge, and there could be as much as nine different pesticides on the surface of one apple, according to the EWG. Photo Credit: Selma90
    Bell Peppers
  • Bell Peppers

    Sweet bell peppers of all sizes and colors are among the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables, which the Environmental Working Group suggests consumers should forego for their organic versions. More than 81% of tested bell peppers were positive for pesticides, according to government research. Photo Credit:  sfllaw
  • Nectarines

    Weeds, mildew, mites and other pests are attracted to these brightly-fleshed beauties, moreso than to many other fruits and vegetables.  In fact, nectarines beat out the rest of the “dirty dozen” with the most specimens testing positive for pesticides in government research.  Pesticides were detected in more than 97% of nectarine tests. Photo Credit: Vic Lic
  • Strawberries

    Tests of a single strawberry could find as many as eight different pesticides on the surface of this summer fruit.  About 370 different pesticides are approved for use on strawberries by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, notes Earthbound Farms, an organic producer.  There are a number of ways to control pests, weeds and diseases attracted to the sugary-sweet fruits without using chemicals, according to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. Photo Credit: mccun934
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