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Organic VS. Conventional: Where to Splurge

Buying organic ingredients can be difficult, overwhelming, time consuming and financially demanding. I’m here to help you navigate the products I recommend buying organic versus conventional (non-organic).

Organic (adj.): of, relating to, yielding, or involving the use of food produced with the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides.

Organic products are regulated by the USDA and must meet specific criteria, of those being: 1.) Soil must be free from synthetic substances 3 years prior to cultivating and continuing, 2.) Operations must use organic seeds, 3.) Prohibited use of genetic engineering, 4.) Animals for harvesting must be raised under specific standards, 5.) Livestock feed must be 100% organic, 6.) All livestock and poultry must have access to the outdoors all year round.

Every year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a list of the top 12 produce items recommended to buy organic and the top 15 produce items recommended to buy conventional. These two lists are called the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen”. The “Dirty Dozen” are the items one should buy organic. This list does not vary too much year to year.

Current 2023 Dirty Dozen list:

1. Strawberries

2. Spinach

3. Kale, collards, mustard greens

4. Nectarines

5. Apples

6. Grapes

7. Cherries

8. Peaches

9. Pears

10. Bell & hot peppers

11. Celery

12. Tomatoes

My biggest rule of thumb is that if you eat the skin of the produce, buy organic. When it comes to animal products, I recommend the following:

1. Poultry: purchase organic

2. Pork: purchase humanely raised

3. Red meat: purchase grass-fed (grass finished additionally, if given that option)

4. Dairy: purchase grass-fed (grass finished additionally, if given that option)

5. Eggs: pasture raised

Not only will you taste the difference, but these animal products have been tested and shown to have higher levels of omega3’s, higher levels of vitamin D, increased amounts of CLA (a beneficial fatty acid used to increase insulin sensitivity helping promote healthy blood sugar levels), less bacteria such as MRSA and increased antioxidant levels.

Buying organic products does not have to be an overhaul. Take small steps. Start by replacing one item at a time with the organic option. Stick to whole foods versus packaged products and you will start creating healthier habits and a healthier lifestyle.


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