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One day we will be able to afford exclusively organic and non-GMO foods. We are trying to get back to the best roots of true nourishment! We are not worried so much about the “organic” stamp [which often doesn’t mean anything] as much as whether or not the food is grown/raised hormone, pesticide and herbicide free.
We try to understand the food labels to make sure we invest in the right place:

  • Products labeled “100 % Organic” must contain only organically produced ingredients.
  • Products labeled “Certified Organic” must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients.
  • The label “Made with Organic Ingredients” can contain anywhere between 70 to 95 percent organic ingredients

In order to ensure you’re actually getting your money’s worth, you need to make sure the food you buy bears the “100% USDA Organic” label. 

By the way, did you know that the U.S. does not require by law for GMO foods to be disclosed in the labels?

In the meantime, we certainly are willing to make a few sacrifices for our health (like when it comes to pure water, fish oil and coconut oil), so we try to prioritize where we’re willing to invest. We wanted to get the best bang for the buck when it comes to organic versus non-organic produce.

Unfortunately, non-organic fruits and vegetables are grown with potentially toxic chemicals, including pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Those chemical residues remain not only on the skin of the fruit, but also can be absorbed into the inner flesh. 

Other studies have also linked pesticides to health problems including: 

  • Cancer
  • Fertility problems
  • Brain tumors 
  • Childhood leukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Birth defects
  • Irritation to skin and eyes
  • Hormone or endocrine system problems
  • Nervous system damage

Children, whose bodies are still developing, are especially at risk from pesticides, as are pregnant women, whose unborn children are extremely susceptible to damage from these toxic chemicals. 

According to Hazardous Pesticides in the European Parliament, released October 2007, the eight food samples they tested, which ranged from oranges to strawberries to grapes, contained 28 different pesticide residues, with an average of almost five per fruit! 

Among them were 10 known carcinogens, 3 neurotoxins, 3 reproductive or developmental toxins, 8 suspected endocrine disrupters, and 2 contaminants classified as “Highly Hazardous” by the World Health Organization.

Three of the eight food samples contained pesticide residues so high they were technically illegal to sell, and the oranges contained illegally high levels of imazalil, a carcinogen. By eating just one orange, a 5-year-old would receive 70 percent of the “Acute Reference Dose” for that chemical.

EEEEK!! And there’s plenty more of this type of information. . . 

So what do we do? How can we take care of our health with a limited budget? Which Fruits and Veggies are MOST Contaminated?

The MOST Contaminated Fruits and Veggies (Buy These Organic)

On the flipside, the produce with the LEAST amount of pesticide residues:

Sources:  SixWise.com   Mercola.com

That second list especially is such a relief!

We began doing this a few months ago, so soon we will see how much of a change (if much) it makes on our grocery budget. One huge difference we noticed (and trust us, it’s not in our heads) is the TASTE- the biggest being the potatoes and carrots- so much more flavorful!

A fun idea is to make shopping an outing with the family or friends or even a date! Once the snow clears, I can’t wait to start seeing all the Farmers’ Markets again! It’s so nice to be out in the fresh air, and usually there are more interesting things than produce to see and experience.

Another option we might be doing in the future is joining a co-op for a produce box. What’s keeping us back right now is not only the expense, but the fact that you get seasonal items, which is great, but with both of us working full-time, we just don’t have the time realistically speaking to “try” and “experiment” so much at once. We would hate to waste! For now, we are sticking to purchasing just our authentic half gallon of heavy cream once a month from the co-op.
wint09_092 The best option is obvious- grow your own produce! This way you know exactly what’s going on! We are purchasing heirloom seeds and are waiting until March to start our mini herb and vegetable garden indoors! Last year’s garden was a fun experiment and we learned much. You can check it out here, here and here.
Whether we buy (or grow!) organic or not, we certainly make sure to thoroughly WASH all our produce before eating or cooking with it!
Here’s a cheap veggie and fruit wash formula you can make at home:

“Fill two spray bottles, one with vinegar and the other with hydrogen peroxide. You spray with the vinegar and then with the H2O2. It is cheap and natural. You can use this for disinfecting surfaces too.”

 – My MIL (Check out her health blog here.)

In addition to the above-mentioned organic list, I now add eggs and butter. I don’t saw milk because we get it RAW, which is best!


I can’t wait to be able to add organic meats. . . but for now, we stick to places we trust and look for hormone-free, cage-free/ free-range and grass-fed in the label.
I always keep that list of what to buy organic handy on a specific page in the back of my little Moleskine planner so I don’t get confused, along with notes on non-GMO Shopping from this brochure.

And for you I-phone/ Smartphone toters, (I include myself since I always have my I-pod Touch with me hehe) there’s a free non-GMO Shopping Guide App.
Every year the list changes based on research and this happens to be the latest one I found, so if you know of something that should be on the list, please share!

*edited 03.29.11 to add*
Another major organic rip-off is organic milk. Because while organic milk must come from a cow that hasn’t been fed artificial growth hormones or pesticide-laden feed, they’re not necessarily pastured, or grass-fed cows. And worst of all organic milk (unless RAW) is still pasteurized, which destroys vital nutrients. –Mercola.com