My Top 10:

Produce I Buy Organic

Before I get into my top ten, I want to provide a primer on some relevant information. If you are simply interested in viewing the list, by all means, jump right into the list and read away! You can find the list right down below. For those of you who want to learn more about the context of why I chose the foods that I did, I would highly recommend reading my article on Organic vs. Conventional foods. Happy Reading!


1. Spinach

Conventional spinach has a high exposure to pesticides that are harmful for human consumption. So, I always err on the safe side and buy organic spinach - and other leafy greens for that matter. Spinach is ranked as the No. 2 item on the EWG’s annual shopping guide to pesticides in produce, directly behind strawberries. 97% of conventional spinach samples tested by the USDA contained residual pesticides including high concentrations of permethrin, a neurotoxin.


2. Grapes

Grapes are a thin-skinned fruit with surface exposure to pesticides. USDA tests concluded that grapes contain an average of five residual pesticides. More than 96% of conventional grapes tested positive for pesticide residues. So, grapes are an absolute must when it comes to organic farming.


3. TomatoEs

Another thin-skinned fruit! Tomatoes made the number 9 spot on the EWG shopping guide due to conventional tomatoes testing positive for four pesticides on average. Whether you plan on adding them to salad or sauce, conventional tomatoes should be avoided if possible.


4. Celery

I’ve heard that most people don’t like eating celery - but I find it to be a great snack, especially when combined with nut butters and raisins. Elementary school much? Maybe, but I’m not ashamed! More than 95% of conventional celery tested by the USDA contained residual pesticides. Since that leaves a very small margin of error for me, I opt for organic.


5. PotatoEs

Ah, potatoes. A comfort food. At first glance it might seem odd that I would choose to buy organic potatoes. Although technically roots, conventional potatoes tested by the USDA had more pesticide residues by weight than any other crop. These pesticides include chlorpropham, an acutely toxic chemical that gets absorbed into the flesh of the potato. So, if you can, buy organic.


6. Carrots

Carrots, like potatoes - are a root vegetable that can be susceptible to pesticide absorption from surrounding soil. Applying the same logic as used in number five on the list, leads me to buy organic carrots. Since this item is ranked at number 26 on the EWG shopping guide, I don’t generally feel too guilty if I buy conventional carrots when necessary.


7. Squash

Some varieties of seasonal squash grown in the United States are produced from genetically modified seeds, so whenever I do decide to purchase squash - generally buy organic. If I can’t find any affordable organic options, I’ll search for the next best imported options at the local Korean grocery store.


8. Bananas

Based on the EWG list, organic bananas are not absolutely necessary. I just eat a lot of bananas since going vegan, so I want to make sure that I enjoy what I’m eating. As far as I’ve noticed, there is a difference in texture and sweetness between conventionally grown and organic bananas. I can’t say the same for plantains, but those are obviously different.


9. Broccoli

Another preference for me is to consume organic broccoli when I can. According to the EWG Shopper Guide to Pesticides in Produce, 70% of broccoli samples tested by the USDA had no detectable pesticide residues. Furthermore, ten percent of broccoli samples contained more than one residual pesticide.


10. Apples

I usually don’t eat apples, but when I do - I buy organic. According to EWG, 90% of conventional apples tested by the USDA had detectable pesticide residues and 80% of apples tested contained diphenylamine, a pesticide banned in Europe due to the concerns over the presence of nitrosamines (carcinogenic chemical compound) in fruits treated with diphenylamine (DPA).


What does your top ten look like? Let me know in the comments section down below! You can find out if your favorite grocery items are better off organic by checking out the most recent copy of EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.