A Beginner’s Guide to the Best and Worst Food to Buy Organic

buy organic

The general rule of buying organic is you should do it as often as you can or can afford. If you have to be selective, there are some plants better to spend on than others.

Things that grow under the ground, like potatoes, are more affected by additives in the soil.

More on chemical laden potatoes later. We’re going over what to buy organic and what you can skimp on, money wise, in this post.

Let’s get cooking!

Why Organic?

What’s on these non-organic plants that make them so bad for our health? Things like pesticides and herbicides.

The World Health Organization finds more than three million cases of pesticide poisoning every year. That number is only growing!

Pesticide poisoning affects internal organs, causing things like swelling, vomiting, and chest pains. Those exposed to large levels of pesticides over time can experience memory loss, hormonal imbalance, and even cancer.

All that to say, Pesticides are a big deal.

Some plants have natural barriers to pesticides, especially the foods you peel or remove the skin from before you eat.

Others have thinner skins or are more vulnerable to chemicals. Learn which are which below.

What to Buy Organic

The foods that you want to buy organic are those with thin skins, those that grow low to or in the ground, or mass distributed foods.

Buy Organic: Tomatoes

There are sixty plus types of pesticides commercial farmers use on tomatoes. That’s sixty different reasons to buy them organic.

This is hard since tomatoes have a shorter growing season. When tomatoes aren’t in season, you’ll pay more for organic versions.

Save yourself some money by buying in season and freeing chopped tomatoes for things like soups and sauces.

Organic Spinach

Think about how much water content spinach has, that’s why it shrinks so much when you cook it! That water content seeps into the thousands of pores on each spinach leaf.

Along with whatever is in the water, pesticides, runoff, fertilizer, etc. They grow close to the ground so there’s no time for the roots to filter the bad stuff out.


Apples are a very popular fruit, whether they keep the doctor away or not. To keep up with demand, apple farmers have to use a lot of pesticides.

One of those includes diphenylamine, a toxic chemical banned in Europe.

Unlike the States, Europe has very strict laws on pesticides, so if it’s illegal in Europe, it’s worth avoiding.

Peaches and Nectarines

Think about how soft a peach is. How thin and penetrable the skin’s coating is. Neither of those things gives it a good defense against chemicals.

Their soft skin makes them more vulnerable to insects, so even more pesticides are needed.

Buy organic and in-season. Definitely freeze some for smoothies! What’s better than a fresh peach smoothie?

Organic Peppers

Since you eat the pepper’s skin (and it’s not very thick) you should buy them organic. Those thin skins hold pesticides on them and let them seep through.

Peppers aren’t that expensive, even with the organic price hike. It’s worth the extra fifty cents or so.

Organic Potatoes

What’s the most pesticide-laden food you can buy? According to the EWG, it’s the potato. We’re looking at you late night fries!

When you think about where and how the potato grows, it makes sense. They grow under the ground, where pesticides that drip off other plants.

They’re also a huge money crop, for those that farm for big companies like McDonald’s. We don’t have a suggestion for organic fries, but let us know if you find one!

Organic Mangos

The mangos you see at your grocery store traveled a long way to get there. That means you the company transporting them (or the farmers) injected them with chemicals to ripen or keep them ripe.

That’s not something you want to put in your body. It’s worth buying organic, to assure you’re getting a sun (not chemical) ripened mango.

Skip The Organic Label

Now that you know some of the most important foods to spend your money on, let’s look at those that you can save with.

The rules for organic-skip foods are the opposite of those above. If they have thick skins, you don’t eat the outer layer, or they grow up high, they’re probably safe.

Conventional Kiwis

There are some people in this world who eat the Kiwi skin, but most of us skip it. Those of us who only eat the flesh are protected by that thick, hairy skin.

Conventional Eggplant

The shiny, slippery, surprisingly thick skin of an eggplant is good protection against chemicals. You can buy these deep purple babies without the organic label.

White and striped eggplants are safe too. Try these when you see them offered at your grocery store, they’re semi-specialty items.

They’re great grilled!

Conventional Broccoli

Broccoli is a superfood for its amount of antioxidants. It’s also a super pesticide-fighter. Most broccoli in the store is pesticide free!

To make sure, break apart your broccoli and then rinse it. Rinsing the smaller pieces will give you a better surface area.

Conventional Onions

What do onions have? Layers! Those layers keep pesticides out, so you can buy them on the cheap.

Purple, sweet, white, or Vidalia, just peel away the outer layer or two. The shiny, papery onion skin does the cleaning work for you.

Remember the Rule

If you read this article and thought, “I’m not going to remember this”, keep the rule in mind. How protective is the skin?

Is it getting its water from the sky or whatever seeps into the ground? This will tell you if you need to buy organic.

Get other tips for living a healthy lifestyle on our blog, we’ll see you soon!