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Pesticide-Heavy Foods You Should Buy Organic

By Ole & Shaina Olmanson |

We try to eat organic in our family whenever possible. I prefer my food to come from a farm in the dirt, grown with sunlight and water and not from a lab and a man in a long white coat, covered in chemicals. I’m a minimalist when it comes to most things, and that includes the ingredients I put in my mouth. A piece of fruit should be just that, a piece of fruit, without a slew of chemicals slathered on the outside.

However, with a large family, organic isn’t always possible. We compromise here and there and have adjusted to get what works best for us, which is always changing. It involves trips to the farmer’s market, a large backyard garden and a membership to Costco to buy organic produce in bulk that we could not otherwise afford, and it involves decisions about which foods are really important for us to purchase organic and which are less important. Luckily, there are yearly guidelines to help us with this part.

The Dirty Dozen is a list put out by the USDA of fruits and vegetables that retain more of their pesticides even after they’ve been washed. We try to buy these foods as organic whenever possible and avoid them when they aren’t available.

1. Celery: With no protective skin and harder to wash, pesticides are hard to wash off.

2. Peaches: Thin skin and lots of tiny hairs hold onto pesticides.

3. Strawberries: Buy in season and freeze or preserve for use during winter months.

4. Apples: Frequently subjected to heavy spraying to protect against pests, the pesticides soak into the thin skin and take up residence there.

5. Blueberries:
Look for local farms or places you can pick your own. There are also several organic frozen varieties that work well for baked goods and smoothies.

6. Nectarines: Dirty, dirty tree fruits. This is one of them.

7. Bell Peppers: Try growing your own. Peppers are a pretty easy plant to grow with minimal pruning. Try growing a few next year from seedlings.

8. Spinach: One of the dirtiest leafy vegetables.

9. Kale: This superfood is also found to have super concentrated levels of chemicals.

10. Cherries: With cherries grown in the U.S. found to have 3x more pesticide residue than imported cherries, these are one to find organically grown.

11. Potatoes: They suck the pesticides up from the dirt, and the entire potato becomes a little chemical bomb.

12. Grapes: Specifically the imported ones. They get sprayed frequently, so beware and find a local, organic source.

Do you buy any organic foods?

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About Ole & Shaina Olmanson


Ole & Shaina Olmanson

Shaina Olmanson is the food writer and home cook behind Food for My Family. Shaina can usually be found in one of three places: cooking, at the computer or behind the camera. These three things occur in the kitchen simultaneously with her four children hanging from her apron strings as she teaches them to cook and the importance of eating locally, seasonally, organically and together. She is a former Babble Food blogger.

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9 thoughts on “Pesticide-Heavy Foods You Should Buy Organic

  1. OrganicTrade says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this information about organic with your readers. In thinking about ways to buy organic on a budget, consider this: instead of focusing your organic purchases on a particular group of produce items, choose organic versions of the products you buy most. Whether that is milk, produce, or personal care products, buying organic will not only help reduce your exposure to harmful synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, but also support a system of agricultural management that is great for the planet.Looking for other ways to save? Try using coupons, buying in bulk, cooking at home, growing your own organic produce, checking out private label products, signing up for customer loyalty programs, and joining a buying club. Organic. It’s worth it!

  2. Shannon says:

    Many of us cannot afford to buy organic on a regular basis. Some tips and advice on the best way to clean foods that may contain pesticides would be helpful.

  3. Shaina0 says:

    Thank you for the feedback! I’ll be writing a post later this week on buying organic on a budget, so be sure to watch for it.

  4. SUSAN says:


  5. [...] Comments: (4) Tags: eating healthy, healthier produce, Healthy Snacks, pesticides on produce, the dirty dozen, what should you buy organic [...]

  6. [...] a conscious effort to source out products and produce in order to fit our budget. I may always buy organic varieties of the Dirty Dozen, but what about everything else? I have found that the more I do it, the better at it I am, and the [...]

  7. Lauren says:

    The reason why they listed the “dirty dozen” is because the pesticides on these items can’t be washed off- they’re in there for good.

    While it’s understandable that many can’t afford organic all the time- these dirty dozen lists are important so that you can, hopefully, choose these items organic and your other produce conventional.

    Buy the best that you can in your budget and vote with your dollars. The more people buy organic the more farms will listen to consumer demand and change their farming practices making the organics more affordable so that all families can eat healthier.

  8. patti says:

    It just makes me so sad that the quality of life is so much better when you have more money. You can’t even eat well if your not well off. I know for so many young families buying organic just isn’t an option. So here we are older people with plenty of money and our younger kids in school can’t afford to eat clean pesticide free healthy food. I think only healthy food should be sold. Is it not dealth even if it takes awhile?

    1. Shaina0 says:

      I followed this post up with 10 Ways to Buy Organic On a Budget, Patti. I suggest you take a look. I agree that it’s hard and frustrating, but it is possible to eat real, healthy foods on a budget.

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