Should I Buy Organic Foods?

Written by Andrew Eydt

Topics: Health & Nutrition

Five years ago, I had only ever purchased conventionally grown foods at the store.  In fact, I doubt that much in the way of organic produce was available in my town at the time.  That is, other than the produce we were able to grow in our own back yard.

However, as I gained interest in maintaining my health through the use of nutrition, I decided to research whether the higher cost of buying organic was justified for some foods (and there has to be a real health benefit to spend twice the money).  I must say that some of the results are surprising, but some of them tend to make sense.


The ‘Dirty Dozen’ List

The Environmental Working Group publishes a list of the 12 foods that are most contaminated with pesticide residue.  This useful list is also printable as a handy reference card for use while shopping.  A very similar, but slightly different list appeared on

Most of the foods on this list makes sense, because many of them are fruits that we eat with the skin on, or are leaf vegetables.  If you have to choose what produce you should buy as organic, you should start with:

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Cherries
  • Pears


The Clean 15 List

Everything isn’t doom and gloom though.  The following list contains a number of foods that contain very low pesticide residue when grown conventionally.  Most have a thick, protective skin or peel that is removed and not eaten.

  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocado
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet peas
  • Mangos
  • Eggplant
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Mushroom
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

I really try to follow these guidelines, with one exception – I find it hard to pay for organic sweet belle peppers, except when they’re on sale.

However, I must emphasize that the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, even conventionally grown ones, far outweigh any risks associated with possible pesticide residue.  A piece of fruit will always beat a candy bar as a snack choice.

Meat, poultry, and dairy are more foods that I typically purchase organically.  I will talk about them in a later post.

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