12 Foods to Always Buy Organic (Plus 15 That Are OK Conventionally Grown)

 Buy organic fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residue and go conventional with those on the low-residue list: "The Clean Fifteen."

Going organic poses a dilemma. On one hand, buying organic produce is a smart way to avoid pesticides. According to a study reported on in The New York Times, people who "ate more organic produce, dairy, meat and other products had 25 percent fewer cancer diagnoses over all, especially lymphoma and breast cancer." Organic brings peace of mind.

But then, organic foods are more expensive than conventionally grown — 47% more, on average, according to Consumer Reports. Pricey organics can quickly blow up the food budget. So much for that peace of mind.

It's reassuring then to know that some conventionally grown produce carries far less pesticide residue than others. Among the conventionally grown produce with the very lowest levels of pesticides are fruits and veggies that are "unwrapped" before being eaten. Think avocados, onions, pineapples, and sweet corn.

The bottom line is that you really can have it both ways. Buy organic fruits and vegetables that run the highest pesticide risk. And go conventional with those that are on the low-residue list...and save a little green.

Here are both lists — the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen" — with links to loads of top-rated recipes.

Fruits and veggies in mesh bag
Photo by Meredith.

The Dirty Dozen

The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that even after washing (and sometimes even after peeling), these fruits and veggies consistently carried higher levels of pesticide residue than others. Consider buying organic versions of these fruits and vegetables:

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

The Clean Fifteen

These foods were shown to have less pesticide residue. Make them candidates for conventional:

1. Avocados

2. Sweet Corn

3. Pineapples

4. Cabbage

5. Sweet peas (frozen)

6. Onions

7. Asparagus

8. Mangos

9. Papayas

10. Kiwi

11. Eggplant

12. Honeydew Melon

13. Grapefruit

14. Cantaloupe

15. Cauliflower

carrots, avocado, tomato, broccoli, cucumber, parsley, cauliflower
Photo by Meredith.

Check out our collection of fresh Summer Fruits and Vegetable Recipes.

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