Foods to Buy Organic -
Highest Priorities

meat and dairyBuy organic meat, eggs and dairy whenever possible

Health conscious people want to know the most important foods to buy organic.

Organic foods are generally priced higher than non-organic, and many people cannot afford to buy all organic foods. 

In addition to the higher price, in smaller cities and certain parts of the country, organic food is hard to find or the quality is poor. Thus, it is helpful to know the highest priority of organic foods.

Meat, Eggs and Dairy

According to HealthCastle.com, the three most important foods to buy organic are meat, eggs and dairy products.  

Even though other health resources list 12 fruits and vegetables (the "dirty dozen") as the highest priority foods, I tend to agree with Health Castle that the greatest concern is with non-organic meat, eggs and dairy. 

  • Meat products include beef, turkey, chicken, game and pork
  • Eggs and egg products
  • Dairy includes all milk and cheese products

Contaminants in the non-organic sources of these foods include antibiotics, pesticides from animal feed, as well as added growth hormones. 

Organic meat, eggs, and dairy come from animals that are raised on a diet that does not contain fertilizers or pesticides. In addition, they are not given growth hormones or antibiotics.

Fruits and Vegetables

According to the Environmental Working Group, the following fruits and vegetables contain the highest levels of pesticides and other chemical-based contaminants, even after being washed.

Many people think that if they use a produce wash, it will remove these pesticides, but this is not true in most cases.

Pesticides are oil-based and will not wash off with food-safe soap and water.  The produce wash would have to contain some type of oil emulsifier to remove the oil-based chemicals.

  • Strawberries, peaches and nectarines are the top organic fruit pick because they require significant amount of pesticides to grow and have thin, porous skin. 
  • Apples also have consistently levels of high pesticide residues and are the next organic fruit pick.
  • Bell peppers are the top organic vegetable pick as they are heavily sprayed with insecticides. This includes red, green and yellow bell peppers.
  • Celery is next on the list for organic vegetables. Many chemicals are used for conventional growth, which readily absorb into the celery stalks.

If you can just buy the above foods organic, you are doing fairly well. The following list of foods are the next level of importance for buying organic.

  • Cherries, grapes, and pears are also treated with large amounts of pesticides. Out of season, they are often imported from other countries which usually have inadequate growing regulations.
  • Spinach and lettuce usually have high levels of pesticides that are especially potent.
  • Tomatoes (all types) and cucumbers often contain high levels of chemicals as well as possible fungicide contamination from the surrounding soil.

If you have a hard time remembering these specific foods when shopping, just know that if the fruit or vegetable has a thin, delicate skin, buy organic. Thicker skins retain less chemical residues. 

Thus, some of the fruits and vegetables with lower level importance include the following:  

Avocados, corn on the cob, pineapples, cabbage, sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwi, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe and cauliflower.

Other Foods to Buy Organic

The following are other foods that you may want to buy organic for the reasons listed: 

  • Coffee is often grown in countries where pesticides and herbicides are not well regulated. Since coffee drinkers usually drink one or more cups every day, coffee is a priority for buying organic and is now available in most cities at prices comparable to non-organic.
  • Baby foods are an obvious choice for organic for many reasons, but especially because a baby’s immune system is not fully developed to protect it from the damaging effects of dangerous chemicals in pesticides and herbicides.



References

15 Foods to Buy Organic; HealthCastle.com; 2008.

The Dirty Dozen: 12 Foods You Should Buy Organic; EatingWell.com; 2016.


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