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Food You Should Always Buy Organic

Snehal Motkar
Organic farming is a practice of not using pesticides and chemical fertilizers for promoting plant growth and preventing them from livestock diseases. This natural method of farming keeps the soil healthy and strong so that crops can sustain for generations. But, is it essential to grow all food crops organically? Certainly not.

All "Natural" is Not "Organic"

Terms like "natural", "free-range", "all natural" and "hormone-free" should never be confused with the term "organic". When the product is made of all organic ingredients and/or is completely organic, only then it is approved by the USDA with the label as 100% organic. Moreover, the product should be at least 95% organic to be termed as organic.
Before getting to the list of food items that should be purchased organic, it is important to clear a few facts about the debate that's going on and on about which is better -- organic or conventional?
The first thing that comes to our mind when we look at the apples placed side by side in the food store shelf (one labeled as organic and the other as conventional) is that are these organic apples worth buying?
The question is totally valid, and it arises because the cost of organically grown apples is considerably higher than the ones produced conventionally.
However, the answer to the above question is yes; they are worth buying. Like I said earlier, organic cultivation of crops is free of the use of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides for increasing the growth in plants and preventing them from diseases.
On the other hand, conventionally grown food have a very large amount of pesticide residues on them, which hardly goes away after washing them. Hence, it is best to buy certain food items organic and protect ourselves from those harmful pesticide residues sticking to food items.
In the year 1995, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found certain fruits and vegetables in the conventional food supply that were highly contaminated with pesticide residues. The 12 most contaminated food items were termed as the "Dirty Dozen."
However, since then, the list has been updated each year with new food groups. The following list includes those dirty dozen as well as other food items that contain pesticide residues and need to be bought organic.


Being a root vegetable, potatoes tend to absorb the herbicides, fungicides, and other chemical fertilizers from the soil, which are difficult to do away with even after washing.
On the other hand, by purchasing the organic variety, you can easily avoid these problems. In addition, if you can't find organic potatoes, try using sweet potatoes, as they come with relatively less pesticide residues.
Deprived of a protective skin layer, celery is the second in the list that should be bought organic.
According to various researches, the USDA tests have found more than 60 different pesticides on this vegetable, the residue of which cannot be washed off completely with water and may get into the stomach, leading to several health issues. If you can't find organic celery, go for alternatives, like broccoli, radish, onion, etc.
It has also secured a place in the list of foods with the highest pesticide residues, and hence it needs to be bought organic.
Almost 35 different pesticides are found on the skin of non-organic cucumber, which are difficult to get rid of by washing. Peeling the vegetable, to some extent, will remove some residue; however, buying them organic is any time better.
Bell Peppers
Like celery, even bell peppers lack a protective layer of skin, and hence, they absorb all the chemicals to the core like a sponge.
Moreover, there is no scope for peeling the vegetable and getting rid of the chemical ingestion. Around 68% of bell peppers contain the pesticides, and many of them are imported with lower standards that do not match with the US standards. Thus, buying them organic and consuming them healthy is the best bet.
Leafy Greens
All the green leafy vegetables are literally soaked in pesticides to get rid of insects and other food contaminators.
Moreover, spinach and lettuce have a larger surface area that can be covered with pesticides. More than 83% of spinach contains pesticide residues after washing and cleaning it. Collard greens also makes it to the list of foodstuff to be bought organic because it contains more than 45 different pesticides on its surface.
On the contrary, in the organic method of growing, farmers use non-toxic repellents to prevent these foods from pests and other contaminators, making them safe for consumption.
Cherry Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes have been recently added to the list of the food items with highest pesticide residue. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for those red little culinary essentials; hence, if you want to enjoy the flavor and taste of this vegetable, you will either have to grow these organically on your own, or buy them from some organic farm.


This fruit tops our list of the food items to be bought organic. Apple is considered as the dirtiest fruit of all -- meaning it contains or retains the highest amount of pesticide residue when bought conventionally because of its thin skin.
Peeling the fruit will not help to do away with the residue, but it will definitely separate the fruit from its rich nutrients. On the contrary, organic apples have greater antioxidant capacity, more amount of polyphenols, and they are safe for consumption.
Peaches are next in the line of thinly skinned fruits, which consequently become a fruit that ought to be bought organic. The pesticides, fungicides, etc., actually sink into the fruit, which are hard to remove through washing. Peeling the fruit won't help, and at the same time, removes all the nutrients from it. Watermelon, grapefruit, tangerines, and oranges are the best options if you are unable to find organic peaches.
Grapes (Imported)
The imported variety of grapes was found to contain more than 86% pesticides. The reason for such a large amount of pesticides on grapes is that they have a very long transit from the southern hemisphere to other parts of the world during which they are susceptible to different fungi and pests.
These contaminators cause the fruit to split and leak while losing all its commercial value. To avoid this huge loss, farmers spray these fruits with strong fungicides and pesticides. Hence, avoid going for imported grapes, and always look for the domestic varieties.
No wonder these strawberries are on the market round the year! They are the conventionally grown strawberries deprived of nutrients and antioxidant properties. All types of berries are known to possess a great amount of antioxidant properties, but only when they are from the organic farm.
Amongst all the fruits and vegetables, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and other types of berries are considered to be highly antioxidant and more nutritious. Blueberries with the count of over 50 pesticides detected on the fruit also need to be grown and purchased from organic farms.
The imported varieties of nectarines are among the most highly pesticide-contaminated fruits.
The domestic varieties are not found with more pesticide residue, but overall 33 different pesticide residues have been tested on this fruit. If you can't find organic nectarines, mango, papaya, and pineapples would be the best alternatives for you.
Like many other fruits, cherries don't have a peel or a protective skin layer. Hence, they are more vulnerable to pests, like the Western cherry fruit fly. Furthermore, if any one of the maggots is found in the fruit-loaded carrier, then the entire load of cherries go right into the trash.
Thus, to prevent these threats, farmers spray the fruits heavily with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Though the crops grow well with this spraying, they also increase the health risk of the consumers to a great extent.
Although this fruit has been dropped from the 2010 list of "dirty dozen", it does not really become safe to eat it from conventional farm.
The insects on the skin of this fruit become resilient to pesticides, and hence, the farmers spray them with more and more chemicals; around 28 different types of pesticides have been detected in the food residue test. Thus, going for organic pears is the best idea. If it's hard to find them, mangoes, honeydew melon, and grapefruit are best alternatives.

Other Food Options

Meat/Poultry/Dairy Products
Conventionally produced meat is healthy neither for humans nor the environment and absolutely cruel to animals. As it is with fruits and vegetables, even animals are treated with antibiotics, growth hormones, or animal byproducts to keep them from diseases and promote faster growth for meat extraction.
The residue of these antibiotics and chemicals is often carried into the meat, which on consumption, may raise health problems. Thus, it is better to buy organic meat.
Organic eggs are best for consumption because the organic label on them certifies that the chicken is not fed with the grains that are not organic; they are instead safe and healthy as compared to their conventionally grown counterparts.
Dairy products, like milk, cheese, yogurt, butter are the staple items of everyone's kitchen, and they are consumed on a regular basis and in large amounts. Therefore, these food items make it to the list of foods to be purchased organic.
Non-organic dairy products may come from animals treated with antibiotics and fed with traditionally grown corn, soy, etc.
Baby Food
Babies are more sensitive to everything than adults, and hence, they are more susceptible to illnesses through pesticides. Thus, the food given to them should be 100% pesticide-free and totally safe. Once your child has moved to baby food, ensure that the food you buy is organic.
Moreover, pesticides are also capable of harming the fetus. Consumption of conventionally grown foods may lead to reduced IQ levels and less weight in the newborns. Hence, expectant females also need to be careful about their diet and should ensure that all the above-mentioned organic foods are included in their diet.
Understand the fact that by buying organic foods, we are not only maintaining the health of our family members, but also protecting the soil from erosion, the groundwater from getting contaminated, and ultimately ensuring a safer world to live in for the upcoming generations.