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Organic fruits and vegetables worth their higher price

Stephanie Taylor Christensen writes about personal finance, small business, and consumer issues. She is the founder of Om for Mom Prenatal Yoga and Toning in Columbus, OH and Wellness On Less, a site dedicated to prioritized living and c...

Buy these organic fruits & veggies

You’ve probably heard that eating organic meat, fruits and vegetables can be a good move towards better health. But organic farming is labor-intensive and generally conducted by smaller farms -- as a result, organic products often carry a higher price, leaving budget-strapped shoppers to make choices on what organic foods they buy. To make your healthy-food shopping easier, here’s a guide on the organic fruits and vegetables worth their higher price tag.

Woman eating organic cherries

Organic foods are more nutritious

Recent studies like one at the University of California, Davis, indicate that organic foods do indeed have more nutritional value. For example, the study found that organic tomatoes contained higher levels of phytochemicals and vitamin C than did their conventional counterparts.

Dirty dozen: Must-buy organic fruits and vegetables

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has outlined the benefits of healthy eating in its "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides". Compiled to educate consumers on which produce contains the least and most pesticide contamination, it ranks produce so that all shoppers can make informed decisions on when buying organic is a wise investment and when it is less essential.

Exper tipsHere are the 12 products (called the "dirty dozen") that you should absolutely buy organic to avoid exposure to high pesticide content.

Always buy organic varieties of these 12 fruits and vegetables.

  • Celery
  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Imported Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Bell Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach

For example, non-organic celery is often priced at about half the cost of its organic counterpart, making it tempting to purchase the "regular" version. But celery takes the top place for the worst food in terms of pesticide levels. And washing it doesn't eliminate the problem, according to the EWG. Celery and the other 11 of the dirty dozen are worth spending an extra dollar or two.


Budget-friendly tip: Buy these non-organic fruits and vegetables

Prioritizing where to spend and splurge is about making wise trade-offs. Luckily, there are also some produce items where the non-organic alternatives aren't so bad. For example, non-organic onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, mangos, sweet peas and asparagus rank relatively low in pesticide levels.

Save money by shopping local

And of course, remember that there are affordable alternatives to buying organic that don't have to involve tripling your grocery bill or shopping at a specialty retailer. Check out local farmers' markets or search online for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs in your town.

Stay organic-savvy

It's also important to remember that locally grown doesn't necessarily mean organic. There are regulations defining organic, and in order for a farm to be a certified USDA producer, it must go through a three-year process of converting the land and soil to meet organic standards. While you're at your local produce stand, ask the staff if their farm is organic. If it's not, inquire about their policies on pesticides and crop treatments. An informed customer is a smart customer, and in the end, it all counts towards bettering your health.

More on organic foods

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