When to Choose Organic Foods

Terms like growth hormones, pesticides and antibiotics can sound really intimidating — especially when it comes to feeding your baby. This is a real and growing concern today for many families and many are choosing to buy organic foods as a means to control what enters our bodies when we eat. Organic foods have become increasingly popular over the past few years, and as a result, they are often readily available in most supermarkets and grocery stores. If you buy, or are considering buying, organic foods, here is some very important information that you should know before you go to the store.

What “Organic” Really Means.

Here is the definition, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA):

“Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled organic, a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”

Understanding Organic Food Labels.

There are basically 3 different organic labels that have been approved by the USDA. Make sure that you understand the differences in these labels so you know what you are really buying.

  1. 100% Organic: Must contain 100% organic ingredients.
  2. Organic: Must contain at least 95% organic ingredients.
  3. Made With Organic Ingredients: Contains at least 70% organic ingredients.

Pesticides on Produce.

You should know that organic farms are allowed to use pesticides. Pesticides are mixtures of chemicals that are used on farms to prevent or destroy weeds, pests and disease from damaging crops. The law says that organic farmers can use pesticides, as long as they are derived from natural sources. This may be surprising and a little alarming to anyone who is concerned about chemicals on their food. Rest assured, though, that although natural pesticides are not perfect, organic produce still has less pesticide residue than conventionally grown produces.

 Picking and Choosing the Best Organic Buys.

Some families choose to pay the higher prices and choose to pick up all organic produce when they go grocery shopping. However, it may not be a practical option for every family. If the grocery store prices are too high, try checking out your local farmer’s market. Farmers markets can be a great resource for locally grown, organic produce at a lower price. Not only do many local farmers practice organic farming, but they usually sell their own produce at the markets and are available to answer any questions. Don’t be shy! Ask them about their farming methods, if they use pesticides, and if so, what kinds. Many small farms cannot afford to pay to become certified organic, but they usually have signs telling you that they farm organic or grow chemical-free produce.

Another thing to consider is that whether or not your produce is organic, washing it well in cold water can eliminate much of the pesticide residue left behind on your produce. Here is a list of the 12 fruits and vegetables that have been found to contain the highest amounts of pesticides on them and also a list of the 15 cleanest fruits and vegetables (non-organic with minimal to no pesticide residue).

The Dirty Dozen:

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Lettuce
  • Kale or collard greens

The Clean 15:

  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapple
  • Avocados
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet peas
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Mushrooms
If you are trying to buy as much organic as possible while staying on a budget, buy The Dirty Dozen organic and save some money by shopping for The Clean 15 non-organic.

Do you buy any organic produce? Have you been to a farmer’s market? *** GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED*** Leave a comment below and you will be entered for a chance to WIN a Designed to Nourish™ Puree and Simple™ Blender and a Food Storage Pods & Stackable Freezer Tray!  FIFTEEN winners will be randomly selected from all comments (U.S. residents only). Check back on Monday, June 11th when we will post the winners! 

Here are the WINNERS: Megan, Jenni B, Jennifer A, Ashley, Serena, Ioana, Ashley O Reilly, Ericka C, Kristen B, Megan S, Kathy H, Alycia M, Liza E, Nicole T, and Brittany W. If you are one of the winners you will be contacted by e-mail. Thanks to everyone for commenting!

Kristen B
June 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm 
We love going to our local whole foods to shop even though it is more expensive, it helps us to eat clean and natural produce.

Alycia M says:
June 1, 2012 at 3:37 am
We buy almost all organic foods (for sure any produce where we’re eating the skin). It’s a family tradition to head to the local Farmer’s Market on Saturday’s. We do our shopping for the week and get big cinnamon rolls and freshly squeezed lemonade from one of the vendors. I love it!

Ericka Coello says:
June 1, 2012 at 8:17 am
We have our own garden for the first year and, OMG, we have a lot to learn about it. organic food is most expensive than regular one so, we try to buy some organic and combine it with what we get in our garden.

Ashley O’Reilly says:
June 1, 2012 at 11:06 am
I LOVE farmers markets and local farm stands. I also find fresh organic produce. Now that I have a little one (5 months old) i’m more interested in organic produce. We are starting solids soon and the farmers markets are the perfect place to find fresh, organic produce for him.

Megan Schargorodski says:
June 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm
We loooove our local farmers’ markets! They make grocery shopping fun and they have been able to watch my son grow. It’s great to be able to know the growers on a personal level. I’ve been making his baby food from market produce only and he’s absolutely loving it!

Serena says:
June 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm
Love eating fresh! This would make it easy for my baby to do so as well!


Ashley says:
June 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm
There are many roadside fruit/veggie stands where we live. Everything seems to tastes so much better when it is locally grown and fresh! It would be great to win this!!


kathy hodges says:
June 1, 2012 at 4:55 pm 
we try to give our baby organic foods whenever possible, just because we want to give him a good start. and farmers markets are great, that also means summer is in town :)


Ioana c. says:
June 2, 2012 at 3:52 am
most of the food i buy is organic


Megan says:
June 4, 2012 at 12:27 am 
I would love to win this! We currently stick to the “Dirty Dozen” shopping list for organic groceries. If I find organic produce, that isn’t on the Dirty Dozen, if it is the same price I buy that as well. We plan to feed our little guy organic baby food, when possible, when the time comes!


Liza Eider says:
June 4, 2012 at 9:25 pm 
I would love to have this! Im all about making smart, healthy choices for my lil guy!


Brittany Wilhelm says:
June 3, 2012 at 8:33 pm
I am 18 years old and just had my first child…..a precious boy….born 3 weeks early. Still a tiny little one but as weeks go by is growing healthier and healthier. This would be an ideal way to introduce him to veggies when the time comes. Such an amazing idea! Thanks


Jennifer Arnold says:
June 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm
I have always told myself that I would love something like this whenever I had a baby and now already my baby boy will be eating solids in no time. I’m a super fanatic about eating healthy/organic foods and wanting the same for my baby and this would be a great way to help ensure I do the best for my LO:)


Jenni Boyer says:
June 8, 2012 at 5:21 pm
I love the list of the dirty dozen.. when to buy organic and when its ok to buy regular fruits and veggies! Very smart :) I’d love to win this for my baby girl


Nicole T says:
June 1, 2012 at 7:10 am
We usually don’t buy organic but we love shopping at the farmer’s market!

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