(Kinda) Figuring out Organic Food

Recently I ran across a helpful article on organic food written by Jessie Wohlgemuth in the May 2010 AmericanBaby Magazine (p. 52,55). Of course we all want to feed our families the very best, but not all of us can afford to shop only at the Merc, and some of us have clay crisscrossed with electrical cables for soil in our backyards and can't grow a garden. I've always wondered where to spend on organic and where it doesn't really make a difference. Here's a summary of the article- hope it is helpful to you too! And if you happen to have more insights, pass 'em this way!

Where to spend on Organic:
Along with the fruits and vegetables in the Dirty Dozen column, the author's recommendation was to consider buying meat and poultry, milk (higher fat content of the milk and of other dairy products made with milk= higher level of chemicals that may be present), organic baby food, and other fruits/vegetables your child eats on a daily basis.

The Dirty Dozen:

(Produce with the highest pesticide levels per the Environmental Working Group)
1. Peaches
2. Apples
3. Bell Peppers
4. Celery
5. Nectarines
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Kale
9. Lettuce
10. Imported Grapes

11. Carrots
12. Pears

Where it doesn't really make a difference:
She said not to stress so much about packaged goods, and that, with a few exceptions, fruits and vegetables with an inedible peel contain relatively low levels of pesticides.

The Clean 15:

(Fruits and vegetables with the lowest level of pesticide residue, according to the Environmental Working Group)

1. Onions

2. Avocados

3. Corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mangoes
6. Asparagus
7. Sweet peas
8. kiwifruit
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Papaya
12. Watermelon
13. Broccoli
14. Tomatoes
15. Sweet potatoes

"Carl Winter, Ph.D., director of the FoodSafe Program at the University of California, Davis says that, "'The amount of pesticide residue found in produce is not significant enough to make food unsafe. The most important thing is to make sure that kids are eating lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, whether they're organic or not." " (Emphasis mine)

"The bottom line: feed your baby some organic food if you can, but don't stress if you can't. If she eats a wide variety of nutritious food, you're doing your job!"
- Jessie Wholgemuth

She also recommends visiting foodnews.org later this year for an updated list.


  1. I loved this article! I get American Baby and have always appreciated their shorter and to the point articles. I (also) can't afford to always get organic, but it's nice to know where might be more important to put the dollars. And honestly, I loved the end point! Best to focus on whole, healthy foods for those little (and big) bodies! Thanks, Sarah, for a good reminder!

  2. Thank you for posting this. A lot is mentioned about the dirty dozen, but not much is ever mentioned about the not-so-dirty dozen. Let me know if you happen to find any of these things on sale around here. P.S. if you ever want to try and grow anything in my back yard you can, and if you want to see if there is anything in it while I'm gone, have at it!