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When To Buy Organic

Written By Katie Di Lauro • 1 min read

You may hear the word organic on a daily basis, but what does it actually mean? Organic implies that produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.

In 1990, Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) in order to develop a national standard for organic food and fiber production. In 2002, the USDA implemented guidelines for food producers, handlers, and certifiers. These labels add more opportunities for understanding the quality of our foods.

100% USDA Organic

  • 100% certified organic ingredients and processing equipment
  • No GMOs (genetically modified organisms)
  • All-natural ingredients comply with the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances
  • Certification required

USDA Organic 

  • The organic seal is allowed, yet only requires 95% certified organic ingredients
  • No GMOs
  • Non-organic ingredients comply with National List
  • Certification Required

You may see the labels ‘Made with Organic’ and ‘Organic Ingredients’, don’t be fooled! ‘Made with Organic’ only requires that 70% of the ingredients are organic, while ‘Organic Ingredients’ has no specific % assigned. Although ‘Made with Organic’ must be non-GMO ingredients that comply with the National List and must be certified, ‘Organic Ingredients’ does have to comply with either.

It’s true, organic foods tend to be more expensive and for those watching their grocery budget, you may be questioning whether it is necessary to buy organic. Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit, non-partisan organization, dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, aims to educate the U.S. on safe foods and household products. The EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ (aka Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen) is updated each year and ranks pesticide contamination on 48 popular fruits and vegetables. The Dirty Dozen are the foods that have the highest pesticide residue, while the clean fifteen have the lowest pesticide residue. Therefore it is more important to purchase the dirty dozen organic, while the clean fifteen is less crucial.  Keep this guide on your grocery list as a reminder when prioritizing your organic purchases.


  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Onions
  5. Papayas
  6. Frozen sweet peas
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Broccoli
  10. Cabbage
  11. Kiwifruit
  12. Cauliflower
  13. Mushrooms
  14. Honeydew
  15. Cantaloupe


  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale/Collard/Mustard greens
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Peaches
  9. Pears
  10. Bell and hot peppers
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes

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