There is one simple solution to save money on organic produce. Learn the fruits and vegetables that test the highest in pesticide levels. Whatever is highest in pesticides is the produce to purchase with the organic label. The rest of the produce is fairly safe to purchase without the organic label. Following this simple rule saves money plus you still get the benefit of healthy produce.

Produce with Highest Pesticide Levels, Always Buy Organic AKA as The Dirty Dozen

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Grapes (esp. imported)
  • Lettuce
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Bell Peppers

Produce with Lowest Pesticide Levels, Purchase Without Organic Label and Wash

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Onions
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet Corn (frozen)
  • Sweet Peas (frozen)

 

Fruit and Vegetable Wash

Always wash produce whether it’s organic or not. It has been handled by a large number of people. And organic produce is subject to drift from crops that are sprayed nearby. So always keep a pesticide wash on hand for all your produce. Most health food stores carry a variety of washes. Be sure to follow the directions on your product.

As we bring groceries in from a shopping trip, we fill the kitchen sink with water and add a few drops of our produce wash. As we unload the groceries, we put produce in the sink to soak. We keep the same containers the produce came in by the sink. When the produce has soaked long enough, we place it on clean towels to dry. By this time, we usually have the rest of the groceries unloaded and put away. Then, we just plop the produce in the containers, put it in the refrigerator and it’s ready for use. Watch for an article we have coming soon on produce washes.

Organic Produce: How to Save Money

We have also heard that coconuts and avocados can not grow if pesticides are used on them. With the hard shell around the coconut, it does seem that would make it difficult for pesticides to penetrate it. The avocado skin is also pretty thick so the same could apply. A rule of thumb is if produce needs peeling, it’s probably safe to skip the organic label.

Another point to remember is that imported fruits and vegetables do not have the same regulations as USDA. So even if they are organic, they usually have more pesticides than American organic produce. Just remember that the highest pesticide loads usually come from imported produce whether it’s organic or not.

This is also true with produce that is out of season. When produce is out of season, it tests with more pesticide load than produce that is in season. So, the safest produce is:

1) in season
2) grown in your region
3) USDA Organic

If purchasing all organic produce is beyond your budget, then purchase fruits and vegetables that are lowest in pesticides from the list above. This saves money and yet gives you safe produce. It’s almost like having your cake and eating it too.