Best Organic Foods to Buy & Which to Avoid

Or…Serious Food for Thought

just had an idea

Are there certain foods you should always buy organic? 

I’ve gone back and forth on this topic for ages.  Is eating organic healthier?  Is it cost effective?

Sure, the premise of eating organic and the whole “green thing” sounds super healthy and in vogue right now but before you dump a whole lot of cash (twice the price, if not more) at your local farmers market, do your research.  If you think your local organic farmers aren’t using pesticides, you’re wrong.  Naturally grown fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides can be toxic too, like frequently used Rotenone.  But, in actuality, 99.9% of pesticides we consume every year are natural.  That last 0.01% is synthetic (or dangerous).

According to Dr. Josh Bloom, Senior Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, traditional farmers use both natural and synthetic chemicals. Organic farmers use natural and synthetic chemicals. Are any of them going to harm you? Dr. Bloom says, “Almost certainly not….except in the wallet”.

The USDA keeps a list of chemicals permitted in organic gardening.

You may be interested in reading “Organic 101: Allowed and Prohibited Substances” to put your mind at ease.

fresh-local-produceWherever you decide to purchase your fruit and vegetables, always wash them before consuming.  Apples are a perfect fruit, however, the wax sprayed on them to make them more attractive at the grocery store is difficult to wash off.  My husband loves apple pie, applesauce and basically anything made with apples, however, the skin on a fresh crisp apple makes the roof of his mouth feel funny…what’s that tell you? Just peel them if you experience the same feeling.  As I’ll talk about in a minute…the cancer-reducing effects of eating fruits and vegetables are too important to go without… so either buy organic or peel.

 So…if  you’re on that organic bandwagon, consider the following before your next shopping trip or visit to the local farmers’ market. According to The Environmental Working Group’s 2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,

Consider the “Clean 15”

The following are least likely to carry pesticide residues:

  • Sweet corn
  • Avocados
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Frozen sweet peas
  • Papayas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangos
  • Eggplant
  • Honeydew melons
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit

…and avoid

The “Dirty Dozen”

The following are most vulnerable to carry pesticide residues and you should consider organic:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Potatoes

I’m not sure why nectarines are on the Dirty Dozen list as we don’t consume the peel, but I’m not one to argue.

fresh apples

You’ll notice that apples are on the Dirty Dozen list. In my humble opinion, apples are bursting with health benefits and we should not choose to ignore this delicious fruit. Please purchase only organic apples so you can benefit from everything they have to offer. For example…

  • Apples may protect neuron cells, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Frequent apple consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of stroke.
  • Eating three or more servings of fruit, including apples, each day may help prevent Type 2 diabetes and
  • Due to their high antioxidant content, apples may help reduce the risk of cancer.

Did you know… Apples come in a close second to bananas in popularity. They were introduced to North America in the seventeenth century by European colonists, the most famous being John Chapman…commonly known as Johnny Appleseed.

Memories of a simpler time…

I can remember every October, a patient of my dad’s would bring over a bushel of apples picked from his apple orchard. There were Granny Smith, Red and Golden Delicious (my favorite). We’d have apples packed in our lunch boxes and mom made different apple desserts for dinner like apple pie, apple cobbler and baked apples with cinnamon and vanilla ice cream. Yumm!

And every Halloween, instead of candy, apples were passed out to the trick-or-treaters (much to my embarrassment). Being a doctor, my dad thought it a healthier choice and no surprise…our house was not a favorite house to ring the door bell on that particular night. 

So…go apple picking this weekend. Make some homemade applesauce, bake an apple pie for dessert or slice up an apple and spread a little peanut butter on it for the kids. Add diced apples to your pancakes and nut bread. Chop one up and toss it in your salad or enjoy a slice with a bit of Brie.


This blog has been updated with lots of new and more detailed information since originally published. To help you do what’s best for your body, I’m including this link:  Tasteforlife’s 2017 Nutrition Chart. This easy to read chart is broken down explaining what each vitamin and mineral does for the health of your body, the specific food sources they can be found in, as well as the recommended dietary intakes.

Having a baby?  I know you’ll enjoy reading my blog “Essential Tips You Need To Know For A Healthy Baby” It’s full of great information about foods you should include in your diet while pregnant to help insure a healthy and beautifully developed baby.

Or… if you have children, you’ll want to check out this link:  TFL Kids Nutrition Chart…written specifically for doing what’s best for the health of your little ones.

In Closing…

To be on the safe side…any fruit or vegetable that you eat the skin i.e. tomatoes, apples, grapes, peaches, pears, all berries and cherries…buy organic.  Celery, potatoes, lettuce and spinach are another consideration to buy organic.  Any fruit that you peel like oranges or bananas would not have to be organic, so save your money.

This topic remains serious food for thought. I wonder if it’s possible to purchase produce that is totally 100% organic. Now, more than ever before, we have to stay informed, do our homework and purchase the best for us and our family.

My take on this?  Purchase organic produce that you can afford. If I haven’t been successful in making you think about what gets into the produce your family consumes every day, read my blog “How to Save the Monarch Butterfly from sure Extinction” and you just may change your mind.

Make a habit of reading labels…NOT just the label that caught your eye but the ingredient label. Did the words “Natural Flavors” catch your eye? Natural flavors are derived from things found in nature and often used to make “fake” food taste like the real thing. Each added “natural flavor” can contain as much as 100 ingredients including synthetic chemicals, preservatives, MSG and GMO ingredients.

Before purchasing a product toting the phrase “made with natural flavors”, make sure you see the stamp on the label stating it’s organic or non-GMO verified.

Did you know… MSG, an artificial flavor enhancer, is an excitotoxin that causes your taste buds to crave that particular food item which then can cause overeating. MSG is linked to headaches, obesity, depression and neurodegenerative diseases.

So…heads up my friends and read what you eat.

Your best bet…Grow Your Own! unripe organic tomatoes

One way to insure your vegetables and herbs are totally organic and free from pesticides and chemicals is to just grow your own. Don’t have a yard or space to plant vegetables? No problem…I’ve got you covered. Check out this Grow Box. It’s affordable, portable, self-watering for days and can easily be placed anywhere in the sun like a patio, on a deck or right by your back door near the kitchen. Read my review and you’ll see why I love it.


What is your experience with shopping for organic fruits and vegetables? Do you frequent a farmers’ market you trust? Please share your thoughts and comments below.



8 comments to Best Organic Foods to Buy & Which to Avoid

  • Bill

    With three young boys, my wife and I do the daily, weekly, and yearly grind of exposing them to the right foods. While I’ll admit that we’re not always perfect with what they consume, we certainly load up on tons of fruits. With organic food prices typically being higher, I felt your thoughts about saving money on the fruits and vegetables that we have to physically peel was right on point…a very realistic and common sense approach, especially to a father of 3 like me. I’m sure I’ll have to save all the money I can, now, so that when they’re teenagers maybe I’ll be able to afford to feed them, haha. Good info, thanks!

    • Karen

      Hello, Bill…thanks for visiting and leaving your comments. You sound like a great dad, trying to do the best you can for your kids. The cool thing is (and I can speak from experience) the food choices you introduce them to now (or NOT introduce them to) will help form their decisions later in life. Sounds like you’re doing a super job and with 3 boys…you definitely have your hands full!

  • Marcus

    This is a great source of information Karen. I’ve always leaned toward organic products and just like your article, I’ve balanced both organic, non-organic, GMO labeled, MSG, and so on and so forth. Though, I’ve never realized that it totally makes sense to get organic fruits and vegetables that you eat the skin, like tomatoes, peaches, cherries, grapes, etc. You have just changed my buying organic food habits. Thanks for that.
    Now, your story about apples is cool! And your husband’s an apple addict! :0

    • Karen

      Haha…thanks for sharing your thoughts and comments, Marcus. If you go back and click on the link to my blog about saving the Monarch Butterfly…you’ll probably be growing your own produce by this time next year.

  • Pennifer

    Very informative post, though I have to say that in my area, at least, organic items are becoming much more readily available even in the regular grocers, so this has driven prices down significantly. For me a huge plus for organic is the flavor. It was not until I started to eat organic fruits and vegetables in the past 18 years that I found the rich and appealing flavors that had been common in them when I was a kid! And while it may not seem much, I am a firm believer that every reduction in chemical additives and/or pesticides I place in my system has got to be better for me than just continually adding toxins to my body. Thanks for the great post!

  • Ballerine

    Good advice – I hate the way supermarkets wax the fruit. Would rather have it au naturel thanks!

    • Maria

      Fall is by far the best season. One resoan.. the foods that are traditional to the time of year. Plus its the one time of year I can bake so many different recipes and ideas run thorough my head. BTW yes I am hungry now!! This year I am attempting to deep fry a turkey for Thanksgiving . I make no promises that NC will still be on the map when I am done with this venture LOL.But the best Holiday of this time of year is Halloween!!! So Excited and cannot wait!!! Pumpkin Lattes, Pumpkin pie pumpkin EVERYTHING. :0)

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