Shopping Organic – Does it need to be?

Shopping at the supermarket or farmer’s market can feel overwhelming, not to mention expensive. One of the most frequently asked questions we get is what foods should be purchased organic?

EWG-logo-150x150.pngThe Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list of produce that is rated according to pesticide exposure during the growing process. These lists have become popularly known as the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” — or the 12 produce items with the most exposure to pesticides and chemicals, and the fifteen items that are cleanest even when conventionally grown, and therefore, not as critical to be purchased organic.

The Dirty Dozen

fresh-cherry-tomatoes-web-300x200.jpgThis list of foods is best purchased organic (in no particular order):

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes (white)
  • Snap peas
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet bell peppers

The Clean Fifteen

eggplant-in-a-basket-web-300x201.jpgThe EWG lists these fifteen items as those least likely to contain toxins, even when conventionally grown. In no particular order, they are:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Onions
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet corn
  • Sweet peas
  • Sweet potatoes

As a reminder, sweet corn is actually a grain, and because of that, is not Paleo.

The Paleo Eight: Other Foods You Should Eat Clean

butcher-showing-red-meat-to-customer-web-300x200.jpgThere are other food categories besides produce that are important to consume from clean and quality sources. These include:

  • Beef — grass-fed, pasture-raised
  • Chicken, Turkey, Pork — free range, organic
  • Seafood — wild caught
  • Ghee/Butter — from pastured, grass-fed sources
  • Nuts/Seeds — organic, not cooked in oils
  • Stock Bones — from organic, pastured, wild caught sources
  • Oils — unrefined
  • Honey — raw, unpasteurized, unrefined

By choosing foods that meet these standards, you’re getting more bang for your buck because these foods are more nutrient-dense than their refined, conventional, farmed, or pasteurized alternatives.

Organic Goes Beyond Food

araza-pressedfoundation1_grande-300x252.jpgIt’s also important to consider that toxins and chemicals can find their way into your body even if your diet is as clean as it gets. Body care products, household cleaners, cosmetics, perfumes, and even clothing can be potential sources for chemicals. But simply choosing “organic” or “free and clear” products in these categories can still result in various toxins being present because many cosmetic companies and producers of cleaning products aren’t required to list every ingredient.

The EWG has a searchable database known as SkinDeep where you can find the cleanest rated products available to purchase. You can also eliminate the guesswork and make your own cleaning products, body care items, and perfumes using essential oils and basic ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and castile soap.

Aimee McNew

Aimee McNew, MNT, CNTP, is a certified nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, thyroid disorders, autoimmunity, and fertility. She is the author of The Everything Guide to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: A Healing Plan for Managing Symptoms Naturally (Simon & Schuster, 2016). Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.