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How to select the best organic foods

Molly Cerreta Smith has enjoyed a career in the publishing industry for more than 10 years. As an editor of several regional magazines, she has had the opportunity throughout her career to meet many local celebrities, businesspeople, ent...

Shop green!

So you want to go organic - but (especially since buying organic foods cost a little more) you want to be sure you're shopping smart. We have a few tips on how-to buy the best organic food for your budget.

Woman with Green Shopping Bags

Vegetables

Plain and simple â€" vegetables are best when they are in season and locally and organically grown. Pesticides may make vegetables look perfect and keep bugs away, but it's safer to eat produce with a few tiny holes in them than their chemically treated counterparts. Be wary of non-organic corn and potatoes, as they may have been genetically modified.

Fruit

Fruit can be another challenge when choosing organic produce. Organic items tend to cost more, so if you need to cut corners, buy regular varieties of fruit that you peel -- such as bananas, oranges and grapefruit. Strawberries are some of the fruits most heavily treated with chemicals, so definitely buy organic.

Grains

Grains such as wheat, rye, oats and barley are the seeds of grasses. If these grasses are grown in rich organic soil, the health benefits are passed along to their seeds. Quinoa, which has a naturally high resistance to pests, is a great substitute for rice.

Beans/Seeds

Sprouting seeds and legumes actually dramatically ups their vitamin content. If grown in high-quality soil free of chemicals and pesticides, seeds and legumes will already be rich in minerals. Whole lentils and chickpeas are great ones to sprout. Other great organic choices are cannellini and kidney beans, pumpkin and sunflower seeds and flaxseeds.

Nuts

Nuts are excellent sources of monounsaturated "good" fats. These "good" fats lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Organic almonds are a great source of calcium, fiber and iron.

Meat/Poultry

Organic farmers feel strongly about the humane treatment of the animals that they raise. Organic grass-fed beef contains more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a great health benefit. By law, organic farmers cannot feed cows animal offal, which is how mad cow disease is spread, and organic farm animals cannot be irradiated or fed genetically modified organisms. For meat and farm-raised animals, the label "certified organic" means that in addition to humane treatment, they have never been given antibiotics or hormones and have not been treated with pesticides.

Herbs

Fresh organic herbs are delightfully fragrant and add amazing flavor to all kinds of foods. Though essential oils in herbs fend off insects naturally, the non-organic kind may still be sprayed with fungicides to repel mold and mildew. If you're looking to start your own garden, one of the best places to begin is with an herb garden!

Milk/Eggs

Once again, organic farmers have standards of how they raise their farm animals from which they harvest milk and eggs. When you buy organic, you can rest assured that the animals have been humanely treated. In addition to the organic label on milk, look for grass-fed labels as well. Hens that produce organic eggs are only fed organic feed in addition to a healthy diet and a humane, free-range lifestyle.

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