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Important Tips on Which Organic Foods to Buy

Updated on August 1, 2019
Look for this seal from the United States Department of Agriculture.
Look for this seal from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Many health conscious families are making the switch to buying organic food for numerous reasons. It makes sense to buy foods that are healthier to eat which have been grown on organic soil with no pesticides used or hormones injected into the animals. Organic food tastes better and helps reduce environmental pollution to our planet. (sewage sludge, yes, even from our toilets, sprayed on the grasslands emits over 500,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide in the US each year!) In order to be honored with the USDA Organic Seal, foods must have been grown with no bioengineering, or sewage sludge. They must be produced with no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, or growth hormones. They cannot be irradiated which accounts in part for a tomato no longer tasting like a real tomato or a strawberry with no flavor. Organic foods can help assure that what we are putting into our bodies is actually real food and not something that merely resembles food.

2019 Dirty Dozen Plus / Organic Foods To Buy

This list is updated each year by the Environmental Working Group. This is the most recent list of foods to avoid with the highest amounts of pesticide residue.

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes
  13. Hot Peppers

Clean Fifteen Fruits and Vegetables

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Sweet Peas - Frozen
  5. Onions
  6. Papayas
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwis
  10. Cabbages
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Cantaloupe
  13. Broccoli
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew Melons

Which Organic Foods Should We Buy?

First you must decide why it's important for you and which foods you consume the most. Some people are concerned with the cost, as organic food often costs more to buy. Perhaps you are pregnant and are concerned about the foods you are consuming. Maybe you have an infant and want to start your baby with the best foods possible. Your concerns may be more environmental and you want to cut your carbon footprint. Or, you're like many others who are tired of eating food stuff and want to eat real food. There are numerous other reasons including the abuse of animals which cause people to make the decision to buy organic.

Once you know why, now it's time to make a list of which foods you should buy. If you're on a limited budget and can't buy all organic, it is recommended to start with meat and produce, especially any produce that is grown underground, such as potatoes and carrots. A priority should be given to infants and pregnant women. ( Earth's Best, Sprout and Gerber are a few of the companies making organic food for babies, or you can make your own.) When purchasing organic foods, concentrate on nutrient dense foods.

  • look for the USDA Organic Seal when purchasing beef, chicken, pork. (the animals have not been given antibiotics or hormones, have access to outdoors and fresh air and are fed organic food)
  • strawberries (high pesticide residue), bananas, peaches, apples, pears, nectarines, grapes, cherries, red raspberries. although bananas have thick skins, they are not immune to the effects of pesticides and eleven carcinogens have been found to be used in production. (Gary Hirshberg, CE-YO of Stoneyfield Yogurt)
  • bell peppers, celery (both high in pesticide residues), spinach, lettuce (or grow your own), potatoes, carrots, kids love carrots and it's worth the extra cost to buy them.
  • dairy products such as milk and yogurt should be priorities. organic dairy cows are not injected with rBGH/rBST ( recombinant bovine growth hormone/recombinant bovine somatotropin). children need the calcium and Vitamin D. organic soy milk can also be a substitute for regular milk and it tastes great.
  • organic peanut butter is much healthier than the peanut butter made with sugar and hydrogenated oils.

If you must start slow, make a small list of a few products to buy each shopping trip. Even if it's only a bag of organic potatoes, it's a first step. Start with the foods that you or your family eat most often.

Read information labels.
Read information labels.

Startling Statistics

Did you know that up to 45% of the corn grown in the US is genetically engineered as well as 85% of the soybeans?

Want to guess how much of the food in the supermarket aisles contain genetically engineered ingredients...... estimated at 70-75%!

(Center For Food Safety)

Understanding USDA Organic Seal Labeling

Here are some important terms to understand when buying organic food. The National Organic Program has labeling requirements to give the consumer assurance that the food has been grown, produced and processed organically. The USDA must give accreditation to any organization whose annual gross income from farming and processing organic goods is more than $5,000. The labeling requirements are based on the amount of organic ingredients in a product.

  • 100% organic- no synthetics, only all organic ingredients (excluding water and salt) including processing. can use USDA organic seal
  • organic- minimum of 95% organic ingredients, can use USDA organic seal
  • made with organic- contains a minimum of 70% organic ingredients of which 3 organic ingredients should be listed on the label. cannot use USDA organic seal.

The information labels must include a list of organic ingredient(s) in the package and the name of the certifying agent of the product. (This may not apply to a local vendor at a farmer's market whose operation from the annual gross sale of organic products does not exceed $5000.) Be an educated consumer and read the labels closely.

Organic Produce

Whole Foods Market produce
Whole Foods Market produce

Where to Buy Organic Food

Many grocery stores now have organic sections in their stores. Organic produce is labeled in the produce section. Some stores have sections throughout the store labeled for organic foods making it easier to find the products. There are also stores such as Whole Foods Market and Sprouts Farmers Market which sell mostly organic and natural foods. Some health food stores carry organic foods and farmer's markets throughout the country now boast of selling organic products. There are farms which serve also as co-ops on which certain days are set aside for the public to come and pick their own produce. Included in the References and Resources section are sites which help you find places in your area to buy organic foods. Start however you can and take the necessary steps to bringing healthier food into your homes. Happy, healthy eating.

Eat Smart and Take Action

click on image to enlarge. (
click on image to enlarge. (

Food Shopping Tips

Shopping for food should be enjoyable.Make a list and allow yourself enough time to read labels. It's great if you're not hungry or rushed. Food is our bodies fuel. Make it as high quality as your food budget can afford!

When shopping for meat, be sure to look for the USDA Organic Seal! Meat is not 100% organic just because the animals were not injected with antibiotics or hormones. If in doubt, talk to the manager of the dept.

Three More Important Labels

Grass-Fed- look for the seal of American Grassfed Association which means the cows have fed on nutrient rich grasses instead of corn and soy. Grass- fed cows are outside where nature intends a cow to feed. Food produced by grass-fed animals is lower in saturated fat and higher in essential nutrients.

Pastured- chickens that roam free feed on grass and nutrient-rich insects. Food can be higher in omega-3's, folate and vitamin B12. Free range does NOT mean pastured, it only means the hens aren't penned in cages. A label marked 'vegetarian' means the poultry never went outside where they would eat bugs and insects.

Local- local foods are fresher and exposed less to chemicals and bruising from travel. find the freshest market in your area and ask questions of where it came from, how far did it travel. The shorter the shelf life, the more vitamins are left in the produce. Support your local farmers.

Watch It and Get Involved

Thank You for Reading and Please Feel Free to Leave a Comment.

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    • vespawoolf profile image

      Vespa Woolf 

      9 years ago from Peru, South America

      Voted up and awesome! Despite the high price of organic food, it is so much healthier and also much more delicious. Thank you for this detailed hub.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      9 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Excellent article! I always read labels at the grocery store, and buy everything organic that I possibly can. I was reading all the Wild Planet labels trying to find low-mercury tuna that wasn't imported from Asia so I could make tuna salad for my son, who enjoys it. I finally found a can that read, "Caught in the USA." The next line read, "Processed in Vietnam." Obviously Wild Planet ships tuna caught in U.S. waters to Vietnam to be canned, then ships it back to the U.S. This sort of thing infuriates me!

      So much food is imported from China and other Asian countries, as well as Mexico (about 70% of what is on the shelves), and there is doubt about its safety because of the lack of safety standards. China, in particular, has a very bad track record for adulterating food and other imports with toxic substances that mimic other, more expensive, substances or materials.

      I was astounded to read that most apple juice sold in the U.S. comes from China! I thought Washington state was such a big producer of apples it had never occurred to me that the U.S. would be importing apple juice from China.

      Not only should Americans buy as much organic food as possible, but they should look for the words "Product of the USA." Our trade deficit with China is in the stratosphere.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      9 years ago from Illinois

      Lots of good info here.

      I agree with eventsyoudesign. Although the CSA farm I am a member of uses organic growing methods, we can't call ourselves organic because we aren't certified. It's very expensive to become certified organic and there are a lot of hoops to jump through. There are definitely some foods (i.e., celery) that should be eaten organic.

    • eventsyoudesign profile image


      10 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee

      I believe it takes 3 years for a piece of land to be transformed into soil for organic farming. It is also very expensive to get your produce labeled organic. You would think it would be more affordable to grow organic. These are some of the reasons organic foods cost more. I believe the cost is worth it in the long run in terms of health benefits. Great article. I enjoyed the videos. Thanks for sharing. Teresa

    • Teddletonmr profile image

      Mike Teddleton 

      10 years ago from Midwest USA

      Outstanding article, we truly are what we eat. The cost of some organic foods is a bit high, have you been to the doctor lately?

      The foods we choose to or not to eat effect our health, and our budget with the cost of long term health care from not so good choices we make when buying and eating nonorganic foods.

      Voted up, useful and shared with all my facebook and other social, bookmarking site friends.

      Eat well and live a happy healthy life style. Mike

    • TheMusiconomy profile image


      10 years ago from New York City

      Great hub..I'm kind of a health-conscious eater, but every now and again I go off track. It's good to read research like yours to keep me motivated to eat as much organic food as possible. I definitely don't trust multi-national corporations with my food.

    • nperc23 profile image


      10 years ago from California

      Nicely put together article!

      For more info on dangers of Dairy visit

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks dawn!

      and thank you lahoriamplifier for reading and commenting. yes, there is a lot of info here. I wanted to help those who are interested have the resources they need. thanks for stopping by.

    • lahoriamplifier profile image


      10 years ago from Lahore

      great hub with lots of information

    • dawnM profile image

      Dawn Michael 

      11 years ago from THOUSAND OAKS

      great hub!

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks susan, good for you for eating organic and thanks for reading.

      melanie, strawberries moved up to number 3 on the 2010 Dirty Dozen list of foods to avoid. they are sprayed with numerous pesticides and leave much of the residue on the fruit. as most of these pesticides are water soluble, they can soak into the fruit, including bananas, especially bananas grown in Central and South America. There is an excellent video interview on the Official Food, Inc Movie link I have above. The interview can be found towards the bottom of the linked page. Check back soon, as I am going to include an update of the 2010 Dirty Dozen compiled by the Environmental Working Group. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

    • profile image

      Melanie Munn 

      11 years ago

      I didn't know strawberries and bananas where so high on the "foods to buy organic" list. Thanks for letting me know, I will switch to organic on those!

    • susanlang profile image


      11 years ago

      must say I have been eating organic foods for years now and you added some very important tips which are quite helpful and continue my quest in making the right food choices. Thanks.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks herbivore and entertainment for reading and commenting. glad to hear you buy organic. we vote with every food purchase we make!

      winsome, thank you! that's great that you're able to talk with the growers themselves and eat fresh produce. hope you're able to watch Food, Inc. tonight on PBS. It just finished here. I hope many people watched it and will take action. thanks for your comment win!

    • Winsome profile image


      11 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hey Rebekah, thanks for the great information. I try to buy from our local growers. We in Southern Cal are blessed with an abundance of farmers markets which are required to sell only produce or products the host grows or makes themselves. You can see the difference and talk candidly with the growers and you really know what is in the food you buy. It tastes fantastic too. =:)

    • entertianmentplus profile image


      11 years ago from United States

      Very informative hub-Thanks

    • theherbivorehippi profile image


      11 years ago from Holly, MI

      Great information!! I always buy organic! Rated up!

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thank you 2uesday and Dr. Cherie! the topic is important even though some say it makes no difference. I think it does and there's so much disease and obesity in our country it has to be linked to our food in many cases. I hope the more people find out about our food industry they will want to plant their own gardens and frequent fresh markets and look for organic foods.

      that's interesting about the brain. I remember after I stopped eating foods with a lot of sugar and junk food, I lost the craving for them. Knowing what is in the food and how it is made takes the desire away for those 'foods.'

      thanks for recommending to your patients! :)

    • Dr. Cherie profile image

      Cherie Santasiero PhD 

      11 years ago from Hamburg, NY


      Love the hub. I try to get family, friends and patients to eat organic as much as possible, not only for the obvious benefits you mentioned (like your life), but it can help to lose weight. When the brain perceived "no nutrition," it will turn on the hunger switch, not because you need food, but because the brain knows you need nutrients, which are almost nil in non-organic foods.

      I will guide my patients to this hub.

      Great hub!

    • 2uesday profile image


      11 years ago

      Good hub, lots of useful information. It was some of the issues you mention in this hub and the proce of organic food here that encouraged me to grow my own fruit and vegetables. I wish that had been possible when my children were youngsters. Thank you for an interesting hub that contains lots of informative facts on organic foods.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks fits4life, sadly, this is true about fruits and veggies, even the ones that are packaged to look very healthy and fresh... have been grown with pesticides that we cannot thoroughly wash off. thank you for your comments!

      hey Dish, nice to see you here. organic meat is more expensive, but if you're a meat eater, you're eating beef from cattle that have been injected with hormones, fed animal slaughter by-products (including other cattle), gelatin from hooves of cattle and other animals, fats and oils from other species and they have been horribly abused. I have cut back on my meat consumption for these reasons. I guess, a little at a time or at least being very selective with meat purchases. thanks for reading and leaving your comments! :]

    • DISH Network Talk profile image

      DISH Network Talk 

      11 years ago from Florida

      Good hub, rE! I agree with the comments here. Excellent hub. I'm a fan of Organic Food, very much so in fact.

      However, I find it difficult to justify the cost of organic meat. Fruits, veggies, grains, and lots of other products are reasonable, but truly organic meat can be 4, 5, or sometimes even 6 times as expensive! $20+/Lbs is a little too steep for my blood!

    • fits4life profile image

      Cherri Brown-Jett 

      11 years ago from Richmond

      This is a very good hub about organic food. There is a misconception about all fruits and vegetables being healthy. Some of the pesticides and chemicals make them very unhealthy. Nice work on this hub. The content is excellent!

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      madison, that is the ultimate compliment if this article has inspired you to make a change! if you check out the links, there is a wealth of information about organic food, why and where to buy it. thanks so much and healthy eating!! :) you also might want to read my hub about food additives to avoid.

    • Madison22 profile image


      11 years ago from NYC

      Rebekah, I must say after reading this hub it has actually made me consider organic foods. Very informative and you make it easy to read and understand. Bookmarked! Thank you!!

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks maita, the labeling does help, especially with meat products. with some produce the tiny label is actually on the fruit itself. I believe she covers that in the video above, how to tell the difference. it helps to know what to look for and expect.

      hi polly, thank you. I have heard the report about organic not being better and I just kind of shake my head in bewilderment. most people go organic for the reasons that you mention, no more pesticide residue and hormones and antibiotics injected into the animals. some want food grown closer to their homes. environmental concerns are a big issue with our food industry. thanks so much for commenting and happy, healthy eating. :)

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 

      11 years ago from UK

      Great hub, I always buy organic food when I can, especially vegetables and dairy produce (I am a vegetarian so don't buy meat). I have done this since becoming a parent and think it is really important. I am in the UK and don't know if it is the same in US, but since the recession I know that organic farming is suffering somewhat, in some supermarkets, esp. in smaller towns organic produce in supermarkets has actually been cut back. Also, there was a news report recently which informed consumers that the evidence is that organic food is NOT any healthier than non organic. The report, on the mainstream news and in the main papers, was a complete farce - it influenced some people but the study was only based on vitamin content and did not take into account the amount of pesticide residue in foods and whether that has an impact on health. This for me is the main point of buying organic food so what a ridiculous study. Unfortunately many people just read the headline and don't digest the whole report. Anyway, great job bringing up an important issue.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      11 years ago from US

      Good morning Ms Rebekahelle, the section understanding organic seal labeling helps a lot, and the last image, good read, I enlarged it. Overall, this hub well synthesized and full of good information! thank you, Maita

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      salt, thanks for reading and commenting. your comment is so interesting. I checked out australia's department of agriculture and food website and it looks like there are media updates posted which is a good way to stay informed. stay active in what you can do to make your voice heard. your country is so beautiful. thanks for coming by. :]

    • salt profile image


      11 years ago from australia

      Fantastic, thankyou... australia is going through a funny stage right now, a company that used to have organic supermarkets, was bought out and their label, macro, is now used by a large supermarket chain, but it does not have any organic labeling, they use the word natural, without proof of organics..... there seems a trend against organics and odd ways that that is being filtered into our lives to accept what they want us to.

      We have asked for labelling of all genetically modified foods, but nothing has been done as yet. I really do prefer organics and value honest and true labelling of products. I have to make a greater effort.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      I did post the page which the interview is on above in the Foodincmovie link. it's not short, about 45- 60 min. long, but worth listening to. and one more comment, sometimes the produce prices aren't that much higher than anemic looking lettuce being shipped all the way from the west coast to the east coast. that makes no sense to buy food like that.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks mentalist, I agree. food spends a lot of time in the back of tractor trailors moving across the country. that's a lot of energy being used and factors in the cost of food.

      green, thanks. I'm glad I helped convince you because I know you're health conscious. you might be very interested in reading through some of the Foodincmovie link above. the site is full of valuable information concerning our food and what we can do to eat better and become more aware of our food industry practices. there's an in-depth interview on one of the pages which is very helpful. I'll post the link!

    • Green Lotus profile image


      11 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thumbs up rE. I know it's more expensive (sadly so), but you've just convinced me to buy more organic veggies and fruit than I usually do... Even produce that is grown underneath the ground!

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      11 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      I would just like to consume products produced close to home.


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