Choosing the Best Organic Produce

organic produce

We’ve all heard about organic foods and have seen them boldly advertised in grocery stores. But what’s the deal with organic fruits and vegetables?

Organic foods are raised without the use of many synthetic products, like pesticides and hormones, and the government has strict guidelines farms must meet in order to be labeled USDA Certified Organic. The movement has become so popular in recent years, organic farming has grown to a $43 billion dollar industry, according to the USDA.

Organic foods are useful for several reasons. For consumers wary of ingesting chemicals from the foods they eat, organics are a good chemical-free alternative. Next, organics cannot by law contain any genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, which some consumers prefer to avoid. Lastly, organic farming practices can be better for the environment.

On the downside, growing organic foods requires more labor and more pricey government certifications, which means organics usually cost more at the grocery store. In addition, organic produce may not be available in all stores.

So what do you do if you want to eat organic but can’t switch your entire diet over to organics?

Every year, Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzes data from pesticide residue testing done by the USDA. Based on the results, the EWG makes a list of the produce with the most pesticide residue and the produce with the least residue.

This means, if you want to start making the switch to organic, consider using this guide to decide when to select organic and when to stick with conventional:

Choose organic when possible:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

Stick with conventional:

  1. Avocado
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas, frozen
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower

The EWG has a pocket guide to these lists available for you to print and keep in your wallet here.

And remember, if the organic options are not available or are a bit too pricey, it’s always better to go with conventional produce than no produce at all! Either way, be sure to rinse all produce well before consuming.

Lauren Wright

Lauren Wright works with both the HYPE Project and Let’s Go! SC. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Human Nutrition at Winthrop University. Previously, she earned her BA in Political Science at the University of Florida and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Rwanda.

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