Top 12 Foods to Buy Organic

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The Dirty Dozen

When is organic produce worth the added cost, and when should you save some cash and go with conventional varieties? Check out which foods you should try to buy organic to reduce your pesticide exposure by 90%, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Apples

Pick organic apples when they're at their peak, usually during the fall. You can get organic apples year-round in the supermarket. They should be firm and free of wrinkles or bruises. Store them in the fridge if you don't plan on eating them within a week; otherwise, keep them in a bowl on the countertop. Full of fiber, these fruits are a great portable snack. Carry one in your bag to ward off hunger—or serve them alongside lean pork or chicken.

Strawberries

Strawberries are the most popular berry in America, and for good reason: They're sweet, delicious and a great source of Vitamin C and fiber. Organic strawberries are in season during the summer. The ones you find in the supermarket in winter likely will be flavorless and hard—buy frozen or stock up during the summer. To lengthen the life of berries, don't wash them until ready to eat. Store in a single layer on baking sheet covered in a damp dish towel. While strawberries reign supreme in desserts, these berries are also great in a salad (mix greens with feta or goat cheese, a handful of your favorite nuts, a few chopped strawberries and toss with a balsamic vinaigrette!) and fabulous in a salsa.

Imported Grapes

Who doesn't sneak a grape or two from the display at the supermarket? Make sure you're getting organic grapes if they're from overseas, or you'll get a mouthful of chemicals in each bite! Grapes are available year-round. Wash them when you get home, then store them in the fridge for up to two weeks. Freeze clean grapes for a fat-free treat (dip them in melted chocolate to be decadent!), or eat them by the handful when you're on the go. Serve chicken or tuna salad "Veronique" style (a fancy way of saying that there are green grapes in a dish) or scatter halved grapes atop a grilled chicken breast or broiled fish fillet.

Celery

Organic celery spruces up savory dishes, from Thanksgiving stuffing to vegetable soup. Celery sticks taste great stuffed with natural peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese. Chock full of fiber and available year-round, add some to your favorite salsa—or use it to scoop up a low-fat tuna or chicken salad. Keep celery refrigerated in the coldest section of the fridge, and it will last for weeks.

Peaches

When is organic produce worth the added cost, and when should you save some cash and go with conventional varieties? Check out which foods you should try to buy organic to reduce your pesticide exposure by 90%.

For peak flavor, buy organic peaches in season (during the summer). Store peaches on the counter until they're ripe, then refrigerate until ready to use. Look for taut skin, with no bruises or wrinkles. They should be firm to the touch but give a little when gently squeezed. Eat on their own, or make pies, crumbles or cobblers. Slice a ripe peach over your morning oatmeal or layer with yogurt and granola. Feeling adventurous? Chop one peach, half a white onion, a bit of jalapeno to taste and some fresh tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper and fresh cilantro or parsley for an easy salsa to top baked chips

Spinach

Looking for a great source of iron? What about potassium, calcium and beta-carotene? ALL of these nutrients can be found in spinach!

There are only so many spinach salads you can eat in a week and only so many sandwiches to add it to. Try mixing it into soups or stews. Stir it into pastas, including lasagna. Sautéed spinach is also quite delicious, especially with some olive oil and garlic. Experiment and enjoy! Enjoy those dark, leafy greens that are packed with a nutritional punch.

Peppers

Organic bell peppers are packed full of flavor and antioxidants. With red, orange, yellow, green and even purple varieties, they're a crunchy and low calorie snack. Rich in Vitamin C, chop peppers into salads, roast and toss in pasta sauce and hummus, or stuff with beans, rice, or lean ground meat. Look for firm, wrinkle-free peppers, and be sure to store them in the refrigerator.

Nectarines (Imported)

Nectarines, a close (but fuzz-free) relative of the peach, are available the same time of year—from May through September, with a peak in July and August. Choose firm, wrinkle-free fruit, then allow to ripen on the countertop. Organic nectarines are delicious on their own, or try adding them to a barbecue sauce or grilling them alongside some chicken breasts.

Cucumbers

Cucumber adds a satisfying, hydrating crunch to any dish you serve it in. It's also a great source of vitamin K and has anti-inflammatory properties. Choose smooth, firm cucumbers, and make sure they are not bruised.

To prepare, try tossing chopped cucumber into pasta salads, or stacking cucumber slices on a sandwich. The cooling properties of cucumber also make it an excellent accompaniment to a spicy meal. Try raita, a cucumber-yogurt sauce, alongside your next mouth-burning dish for welcome relief!

Cherry Tomatoes

Add sweet organic cherry tomatoes to pastas or salads for a burst of vitamin A, vitamin C and lycopene. You can also chop them up and make them into a fresh homemade salsa to serve with baked tortilla chips. Choose tomatoes that have a rich color and taut, firm skin, and be sure to store them at room temperature so they don't get mealy.

Snap Peas (Imported)

Snap peas are a simple way to add crunch and fresh flavor to any dish. Throw them into salads and stir-fries for a pop of green.

Snap peas are rich in vitamin c, vitamin K and fiber. Look for firm, crisp pods and store them in the fridge.

Potatoes

Potatoes can be a great source of carbohydrates and nutrients, including vitamins C, B-6, and folate and fiber (4 grams when you eat the skin).

To enjoy your potatoes in a healthy way, cut them into 1-inch thick slices, season with garlic, herbs and pepper and bake in the oven until soft and golden brown.

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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DEBRALEFEVRE2

6/24/2014 2:30:46 PM

Be aware that unless it is FDA certified organic you may be wasting your money. Avoiding pesticides is critical to maintaining a strong immune system. This is why the cancer rate is so high, our immune system simply cannot handle the combined affect of toxins we ingest daily, from multiple sources.

MONTREAL12

3/20/2013 1:37:39 PM

MONTREAL12's SparkPage
thnks!

LEANMEAN2

3/18/2013 7:11:55 AM

LEANMEAN2's SparkPage
Thanks for sharing

BLONDIE218145

3/16/2013 5:04:21 PM

BLONDIE218145's SparkPage
I worked at our local grocery store and I had to fire a man for taking a piece of candy. He'd been there over thirty years! I fought for him and got his job back because there wasn't a direct policy, just an arrogant store manager( not me tho). Mgr said" what if everybody did that"?. I agreed but how they fired him( without company followed steps) was wrong!

ANEW2DAY

3/15/2013 11:52:24 AM

All fruits. For top 12 foods, I would include milk, peanut butter, chicken.

CMFARRELL36

3/14/2013 8:13:28 PM

CMFARRELL36's SparkPage
I thought this was interesting, but overstated.
As I have read in other comments - you still have to wash everything thoroughly, and cost is a major consideration for organic foods.
I would love to be able to buy organic - except that now there are a number of other considerations. The recent challenges from on-line and elsewhere about the soil on and around organic vegetables - with the possibility of whatever diseases, from the organic soil nourishment - this seems to me to contra-indicate buying organic.

I am very confused right now about whether organic is as clean and as pure as we are all lead to believe, from a healthy food point of view.

TANIAKIM

3/14/2013 4:16:10 PM

I would have added onions and carrots - the flavour tends to be better when organic.

I feel that organic food is essential. I would rather avoid the pesticides and stay healthier, than 'save money' and ruin my health. I eat more veg and fruit and less meat if I am feeling broke - that is healthier too.

FANCYQTR

3/14/2013 2:07:20 PM

FANCYQTR's SparkPage
I will buy organic sometiimes, but at the cost it is too much for me to afford. I got organic kale yesterday to try to make the kale chips, but it was on sale and less than the regular kale. Strawberries taste a lot better organic IMO, but I can seldom afford them.

CANUCKSFAN2

3/14/2013 12:39:15 PM

Would never buy organic; its too expensive for me to consider buying.

DREAM2BE

3/14/2013 12:24:06 PM

DREAM2BE's SparkPage
Good info in the article & from the message board! Thank you all!

CHAIRUL

3/14/2013 11:49:25 AM

CHAIRUL's SparkPage
I totally believe that "sampling' foods at the grocery store is theft-and it drives up our food prices!!!!! There is a mentality that taking a cookie or a few grapes is expected and acceptable....and it is not. I wouldn't go into any one's hone and rummage through their cupboards or fridge for a snack without asking. Same thing.

FREEJAMWILL1

3/14/2013 11:40:49 AM

FREEJAMWILL1's SparkPage
Good Information.

1GROVES2

3/14/2013 10:49:11 AM

1GROVES2's SparkPage
Why should we buy organic??? Why?
And I am shocked about the obvious condoning of stealing!!! grapes! I never ever take a grape or anything else...WHO DOES THAT?
SP should be ashamed!

NORASPAT

3/14/2013 10:43:31 AM

NORASPAT's SparkPage
I was surprised to read who never take grapes to sample at the store. 2 reasons unless they are put in a sampling dish it is THEFT which should never be condoned. Just like opening bananas for a child to eat and tossing the empty skin. It is theft and condoned. Very bad example to others children especially .
Eating the Un- washed grape can also be dangerous my DH had an anaphylactic reaction to eating an unwashed apple at a function I assumed at the time everyone washed fruit. Now we only use cooked skinned apples for him. Too scary to eat any skin.

IAMTOLOSE

3/14/2013 8:50:38 AM

Good list. I would have added milk and dairy, if not organic, then at least hormone and antibiotic free.

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