Trying to save money? 15 foods you don’t need to buy organic

Published on March 02 2010 - 3:45 PM

Although I enjoy the grocery store (maybe it’s because I’m a dietitian that I love checking out new products and comparing food labels), lately my husband is doing our grocery shopping.

His budget-friendly buys are great for our bank account. But they don’t always align with my interest in eating organically. We don’t buy everything organic, but pesticides can be absorbed into fruits and vegetables, leaving trace residues, and I’d prefer to not eat pesticides. Long-term exposure to them has been associated with cancer, infertility and neurologic conditions, such as Parkinson’s. (Here are 4 ways to reduce your exposure to pesticides.)

Anyway, one day he called me from the produce aisle. Andy wanted to know what on the list he truly needed to buy organic and what he could skimp on and buy conventional. (Does organic produce have more nutrients? Find out here.)

Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group (EWG, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization) has identified 15 fruits and vegetables that are least likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues. I told him to save money and buy those conventional:

  1. Onions
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet Corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Watermelon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Sweet Potato
  15. Honeydew Melon

(Save even more money with these dinner recipes for $3 or less per serving.)

EWG also identified 12 fruits and vegetables that are most likely to have higher trace amounts of pesticides. (If your budget allows, buy these 18 foods organic too.) We buy organic:

  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell Peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Kale
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes (imported)

 

Editor's Note (3/29/10): One more thing to consider in making your organic purchases: the environment. Certainly buying organic is healthier for the environment because it mandates more sustainable farming practices and helps to reduce the amount of chemicals that leach into our soil and water.

Editor's Note (4/29/10): The Environmental Working Group released their 2010 edition of the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides. The lists in this blog were updated with EWG's most recent data.

Brierley's interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as nutrition editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master’s degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.