Organic: When to Splurge & When to Save Your Money

There is more talk and evidence appearing all the time that suggests organics are our best choice when shopping for food, namely fruits and vegetables. Because of the amount of pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals used on large domestic and imported crops, not to mention the toll this takes on the environment, selecting local, organic produce becomes more popular all the time.

However, it’s still fairly cost prohibitive for most consumers to purchase organics. Just this week we saw a pint of organic strawberries priced at $4.49, while the non-organic in the same size was $3.49. It’s hard to sell someone on spending a dollar more on the exact same thing when they can’t see a tangible difference.

If you’re trying to weigh the benefit of spending more on organic, or sticking to the non-organic produce, consider that there are some fruits and vegetables you’re better off buying organic and others you don’t have to worry about quite as much.

12 Organic Must-Haves
These fruits and vegetables should be in your budget to “splurge” for the organic variety. These tend to have the highest use of chemical treatment, and because of their thin, lacking, and/or porous skins, the contamination can spread throughout the food. Washing is particularly necessary with these, especially if you purchase the non-organic.

1. Peaches (highest pesticide)
2. Apples
3. Sweet Bell Peppers
4. Celery
5. Nectarines
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Lettuce
9. Grapes
10. Pears
11. Spinach
12. Potatoes

Next: 12 Organics You Can Skip

12 Organics You Can Skip
If you can afford the organic, go for it, but if you’re counting your pennies, you don’t have to worry as much with these fruits and vegetables. These tend to have a thicker skin or peel present that protects the inside. It’s still important to wash these due to dirt, travel, and handling.

1. Onion (lowest pesticide)
2. Avocados
3. Sweet Corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mango
6. Sweet Peas
7. Asparagus
8. Kiwi
9. Bananas
10. Cabbage

If you want to stretch your organic dollar further, here’s how to make the switch more affordable:

1. Plant your own garden using organic soils, seeds and do not use fertilizers or pesticides.
2. Shop local farmers markets for organic produce, meats, eggs, honey, and more. (Be sure to ask the farmer, don’t assume.)
3. Join a CSA (community supported agriculture) and buy-in to a portion of a local organic farmers harvest for the year to receive fresh produce weekly.
4. Stock up at bulk club stores for things like organic yogurt, organic rice, and even organic spices.
5. Use coupons and watch for sales at your supermarket and health food stores, and then stock up on items you use most. Freeze or can and you’ll have them until the next sale!

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Elena T.
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you :)

Jennifer C.
Past Member 2 years ago

Thank you.

Patty L.
Patty L.4 years ago


Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T.4 years ago

Thanks for this info...

rachel murray
Rachel M.4 years ago

I try to buy organic everything if I can, but it's good to know if things are tight

Lika S.
Lika S.4 years ago

Thanks, this is very helpful.

Monique D.
Monique D.4 years ago

Thanks for an interesting article

Annemarie W.
Annemarie L.4 years ago


Nasrin T.
Nasrin Tajadod4 years ago


Lynn C.
Lynn c.4 years ago

The lists were interesting. Already have the top ten on the dirty foods list from Environmental Working Group. My only caveat is sweet corn because I believe it is GMO.