At Go Green Travel Green, we frequently recommend shopping local at farmer’s markets and fruit and vegetable stands for your produce, meat, and dairy. In fact, we’ve listed what we deem the best farmer’s markets in the US! However, we live in the real world, and in the real world are busy schedules and food budgets and grocery stores. Don’t worry: You can still find the organic foods you need, no matter where you need to shop. Here are the 17 best foods to buy organic.
What are the best foods to buy organic?
Organic food can be expensive, and most families cannot spend the extra cash on every food during every grocery trip. The good news: you don’t need to. Instead, using a few rules of thumb and trusted resources can help you isolate the exact foods you need to buy organic — and which ones you don’t. For instance, foods with thick skins and shells you remove before eating rarely need to be bought organic. Buying cantaloupe, shelled nuts, or oranges? Skip the organic version! On the other hand, leafy vegetables and other foods you consume without removing any other section can be more susceptible to harmful pesticides.
Photo credit: girls getaway
For the rest, use resources such as the Environmental Working Group‘s annual list of the dirty dozen foods to know what to buy organic. How does the EWG get their information? The group uses Department of Agriculture data concerning pesticide residue, then ranks foods based on how much or little pesticide residue they have. Buying the following foods, in each following category, organic can reduce your pesticide exposure by 80%!
Which fruits and vegetables you should buy organic: The Dirty Dozen plus 2
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Sweet bell peppers
- Kale / collard greens
- Summer squash
Which fruits and vegetables you don’t need to buy organic: The Clean 15
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Sweet potatoes
Which meats to buy organic
Meat is already so expensive it is too bad it is on the list of the best foods to buy organic. Why buy your meat organic? Animals raised organically are not fed antibiotics, the bovine human growth hormone (rbGH), or other artificial drugs. You’ll avoid exposure to diseases such as Mad Cow Disease, and you’ll know your meat has come from healthier, cleaner run farms with more humane treatment of animals. Which meats should you buy organic? All of it, ideally. The overuse of antibiotics can lead to the development of drug-resistant strains of bacteria in animals and people. The lack of it ensures fewer hormones and chemicals sitting on your plate every night. That said, most experts agree that beef is the number one meat to buy organic, due to the prevalence of hormones in non-organic animals. Beef is number 15 on our list of foods you should always buy organic. Update: Environmental Working Group released a report on antibiotic-resistant bacteria in meat and ground turkey and pork chops were among the worst offenders.
What dairy you should buy organic
It stands to reason that if it’s best to eat organic meat, it’s also best to eat organic dairy products. After all, you’re trying to avoid the same problems: hormones and antibiotics in your food. To this end, the best dairy food to buy organic is cow’s milk, which is number 16 on our list.
Buying organic for kids
It is more expensive to eat organic. I tend to look at what my kids eat and drink the most often… think the 80/20 rule… What foods are my kids consuming 80% of the time? I try to make as many of those organic as possible. As an example, every day they have milk for breakfast, apple slices in their lunch bag, and a “bar” as their snack at school. I buy these three things organic all the time. As a family, we also eat a lot of spinach, carrots, and bread. I always buy these organic as well. Read about raising your kids vegetarian.
Another thing is to consider sustainable dining in general. You can make simple changes that will make a big difference, especially when it comes to choosing sustainable seafood. Where is your food coming from? How far did it travel? There are sustainable restaurants and farm-to-table restaurants and even food trucks across the country that are offering up sustainable and organic options as well. Are you able to support local businesses instead of chains?
As with all forms of green living and ways to make your life more environmentally friendly, it is probably unrealistic to think you can and should buy every food you eat organic all the time. By following the above lists and rules of thumb, you can reduce your intake of chemicals, pesticides, and hormones significantly and consistently. Consider what you and your family eats and then review the list for the best foods to buy organic.