Terri Coles
June 26, 2013

The 14 Fruits and Vegetables You Should Always Buy Organic

It’s summer, which means it’s the best time of year for fresh produce — a good thing, because most of us fall short of our recommended daily servings. Hit up a grocery store or a farmer’s market near you and you’ll find plenty of delicious fruits and vegetables that are perfect for summer cooking — salads, grilling, and of course, daiquiris.

But how do you know that the food you’re buying is safe? Organic produce seems like the smarter choice all around — for your health, for the environment, and for farm workers — but it can be harder to find and is definitely more expensive. And of course, nobody wants you to eat less awesome fruits and veggies because you can’t afford to buy them!

When you’re shopping for produce, keep this list from Environmental Working Group in mind. These are the “dirty dozen plus” for 2013 — the fourteen fruits and vegetables you should always try to get organic, because they’re the most likely to be contaminated with different chemicals. The EWG says that by shopping organic from this list, you can reduce your exposure to toxins in your produce by 80 percent.

  1. Celery
  2. Apples
  3. Cherry tomatoes
  4. Cucumbers
  5. Grapes
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Hot peppers
  8. Peaches
  9. Spinach
  10. Potatoes
  11. Strawberries
  12. Bell peppers
  13. Kale/collard greens
  14. Summer squash

As for the rest of it, here are the 15 fruits and vegetables you can buy conventionally grown, if you need to do that to get them in your diet or to preserve your grocery budget. They tested lowest for toxins, in particular because of their thicker — and sometimes non-edible — skins.

  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocado
  3. Cabbage
  4. Cantaloupe
  5. Sweet corn
  6. Eggplant
  7. Grapefruit
  8. Kiwi
  9. Mango
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Onions
  12. Papaya
  13. Pineapple
  14. Sweet peas (frozen)
  15. Sweet potatoes

And here’s something important to remember: talk to your food producers. Buying certified organic food is a good way to know what you’re getting, but a lot of smaller farmers don’t get the official FDA certification because it’s expensive and onerous, or because they fall short on a point or two. You can often get healthy, safe, delicious produce at markets even if it doesn’t have the government label on it. Eat up!