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What to Buy Organic (and What to Skip) [INFOGRAPHIC]

by Alexis Joseph, MS, RD, LD
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What to Buy Organic (and What to Skip) [INFOGRAPHIC]

MyFitnessPal and Ally have teamed up because they both recognize the connection between finances and physical fitness and the important roles they each have on personal well-being.

Most people perceive organic food to be healthier and safer than non-organic options — but is this based on fact or opinion? While the consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the jury’s still out on whether eating fully organic boasts the health benefits to warrant dishing out more dough.

While some people choose to eat organic for reasons other than nutrition alone — including animal welfare, environmental impact and the desire to avoid genetic modification, growth hormones and antibiotics — making the decision to go organic isn’t a cheap one. Due to higher production costs and limited supply, most organic foods are more expensive than conventional options.

At Ally, we don’t just care about your finances — we care about you. That’s why we’ve dug deeper into what it means to be financially fit. Just like physical fitness, there are different ways to be financially fit. Your training program depends on what you want to accomplish, and you should approach your financial routine the same way. Find out what kind of financially fit you are with our financial fitness quiz.

So, which items are worth the splurge? Keep this guide handy next time you’re debating whether to snag or skip organic.

Written by Alexis Joseph, MS, RD, the whole foods enthusiast and registered dietitian behind the plant-based food blog Hummusapien.


  • Wends

    This is quite an ill-informed article. Organic farming doesn’t mean non-pesticide farming. It means non-synthetic pesticides, which have been proven to be just as toxic as synthetic pesticides. The recommendations for washing your purchases ‘if you’re buying non-organic’ apply JUST as readily to organic produce; actually, given that some synthetic pesticides and herbicides have been proven to have less impact on our cells as they target only those of the particular pest they’re designed for, I’d say wash your organic produce just as if not MORE thoroughly!

    • The_Dash

      Came here to say what you did, but I’d have been far less eloquent. I’m honestly afraid of the copper-based pesticides used by the organic industry that never have to go through government regulation like synthetic ones do.

      Worth mentioning that any article citing the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen is pretty much bunk. What they don’t tell you is that the pesticides detected are minute and far below Gov’t standards for risk.

      Bottom line, eat more fruits and veggies, period. Save your money for fun stuff.

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    • Kim Morton

      Just like The_Dash, I came to say the same. I would add, as Dash did, that the minuscule amount of pesticide residue on any produce sold in the US is not a health hazard. However, what IS dangerous are the potential germs you could pick up from the hands of all the other people who have handled that fruit before you buy it. So, wash your fruit and veggies for THAT reason. The other shoppers, the stockers, could have the flu or worse.

  • 99.99% of the pesticides in our food are produced by the plants themselves for protection against pests that would otherwise prevent them from growing and reproducing as evolution dictates. It doesn’t matter whether you eat organic, conventional, biotech, or blessed-by-virgins-under-the-full-moon food, nature supplies most of the pesticides.

    As others have said, the Dirty Dozen list is nonsense. The detected pesticides are at such low levels you would need to eat thousands of servings a day to get anywhere close to health impact.

    Organic is bad for the environment because its low productivity means more acres have to farmed to get sufficient yield. More acres means more manure runoff, more E. coli, more weeds, more insect pests, more diseases, and more topsoil loss. The most environmentally correct way to farms is zero-till with a nice, low toxicity herbicide like Roundup and seed that’s Roundup-ready, drought-resistant, and pest-resistant.

    You should buy no organic products unless they look better and cost less. And when you do, you should feel guilty about it because they harm the planet. Same goes for grass-fed and grass-finished beef, it’s a total scam that consumes twice the environmental resources as regular beef.

    • Mark LaFave

      How long have you worked for Monsanto? “a nice, low toxicity herbicide like Roundup”? Don’t even go there.

      • Kim Morton

        Look up the LD50 for glyphosate & compare that to acetaminophen, vitamin D, rotenone & copper sulphate. The last 2 are approved for USDA organic. You’ll find glyphosate is the least toxic.

        • Wally

          LD50 is meaningless for glyphosate. LD50 is a measure of acute toxcity. Glyphosate is a chronic toxin. Glyphosate is a potent endocrine disruptor that has no safe dose. I causes DNA breaks at the molecular level and irreversible cell death.

          Food contaminated with Glyphosate and glufosinate herbicides is NOT safe. Glyphosate is a synthetic amino acid that causes deleterious affects to biology. It can be found in every tissue of those consuming a contaminated diet. Between 1% to 1-1/2% of every residue dose integrates with and accumulates in tissues with highest accumulations in bone. Glyphosate also disrupts and inhibits our main digestive enzymes especially lipase where it irreversibly inhibits the enzyme ….. Glyphosate inhibits many, many enzymes not just those involved with the Shikimate Pathway …
          Monsanto lied about bioaccumulation their own pathologists noted glyphosate’s integration in proteins as did DUPONT. Scientists have also confirmed their work in the lab… Glyphosate as an amino acid analog of glycine, becomes an integral part of the collagens, as well as an enzyme inhibitor in all species ….

          • Kim Morton

            Can you cite your sources Wally? Have a published, peer-reviewed study? Many have tried, and none have succeeded in proving your assertions.

          • Peaceful Warrior

            Wally is correct. LD50 is a measure of acute toxicity. Glyphosate is a chronic toxin. Industry operatives always try and confuse that issue.

            The claims that Wally made about glyphosate have been confirmed by the data generated from Monsanto’s own studies. These studies were done in the late 80s and early 90s. Monsanto and the EPA found the finding in these studies to be “inconvenient” Monsanto hid the science away from the science community as a trade secret, and the EPA approved glyphosate over the objections of their own staff toxicologist. You can read the study using Monsanto’s’ data that was accuired under the FOIA in this study.

            Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases IV: cancer and related pathologies
            Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff.
            Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry 15 (2015), 121–159.

            Not only that, but a recent study published on the Nature website shows that glyphosate causes fatty liver disease at levels that are 430,000 times lower than the levels allowed in the food supply. http://www(dot)nature(dot)com/articles/srep39328

            Now you have some proof. I have many more studies I could cite too. As we can all see Wally was correct.

          • Wally

            The source of the information is scientist Anthony Samsel who used Monsanto’s own study data that had been hidden as a trade secret right before glyphosate was approved by the EPA over the objections of their own staff scientists.

            The EPA glyphosate approval process ignored the science.

      • Are you trying to imitate a moron? Playing the shill card is the Internet equivalent of wearing a “kick me” sign.

  • Goldfinger

    Pure nonsense. You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

    You are using the same spin, propaganda, and lies that industry operatives do when they try and spin away any science that conflicts with the industry junk pseudo-science agenda that must be protected from real science and the truth at all costs.

    • Kim Morton

      According to the Pew Foundation 89% of scientists believe GMOs are safe. I believe the facts are on their side.

      • Goldfinger

        You are falling for the industry propaganda.

        If you’re talking about the AAAS sponsored Pew survey in the piece were commenting on you are on very shaky ground if you want to see it validated.

        It was a survey and not a study and the scientists were self-selecting and they used a different polling methodology for the nonscientists. Only 17% of the scientists surveyed responded. It has about the same scientific validity as a radio call-in a survey.

        Of that 88 % how many are food safety or health experts? See when I look at Q42 I see that most of them have no food safety or health background, they are mostly agricultural or social scientists, etc.

        In comparison, at a 2014 Queen’s University Belfast ASSET conference, where about 350 scientists, regulators and industry representatives involved in food safety were scheduled to attend, a survey of the audience found 44% were pro-GM, 37% were opposed to GM and 17% were neutral. An opinion poll of the same group, at the end, found 40% were pro-GM, 42% were opposed to GM and 17% were neutral. Keep in mind that some of the audience were industry representatives and probably have a conflict of interest, but these numbers for experts on food safety and health are much closer to the numbers for the general public compared to the AAAS scientists. http://www(dot)agriland(dot)ie/farming-news/safety-gm-food-consumption-yet-proven/

        So why are the opinions of the AAAS scientists so different than the actual food safety experts? It is likely that most AAAS scientists have little knowledge of GMOs and have formed their opinion of GMOs based on an earlier AAAS position statement. This earlier position statement was voted on by the chair of the board at the time who is a biotechnologist with a conflict of interest having worked with biotech companies Sigma Aldrich and Evogene. The remaining members who voted included another biotechnologist, an entrepreneur, an astrophysicist and a psychologist. So it would seem these scientists who voted on this AAAS position statement were either biased and/or in fields not related to food safety or health either.

        When we look at actual groups that are experts in food and nutrition, medicine and public health we see a very different story. For example:

        Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “Biotechnology in the form of genetic engineering, commonly referred to as genetically modified organisms, has produced some crops that are biofortified, chemically resistant, and/or pest resistant. There is no consensus on the benefit or harm of this approach and more research is needed to determine the impact on human and environmental health.”

        Dozens of other food and nutrition, medical and public health groups make similar statements. http://www(dot)gmofreeusa(dot)org/research/gmo-safety/

        • Kim Morton

          I used to work at a major land grant university with food scientists and agronomists. They scoffed at the pseudo science that indicated GMO versions were nutritionally different or in any way less safe than the conventionally produced counterpart. But, if you’re a supporter or supported by gmofreeusa, then your financial interests force you to say otherwise.

          • Goldfinger

            The facts I have posted here have nothing to do with my financial interests.

            Maybe you worked at FSU with industry propagandist and well known liar Kevin Folta. Many land grant universities have partnerships with industry. We have seen how these partnerships tend to corrupt scientists for the benefit of industry agenda.

            I have no financial interests in GMO Free USA, but I support the important work they do because I care about the health of my family, community, and the planet.

          • Kim Morton

            You put value on industry over public research.

          • Goldfinger

            Nonsense. I put value on independent science that is peer reviewed and vetted by independent parties.

            What land grant university did you work for and what did you do?

          • Kim Morton

            “GMO Free USA”. Their name says it all. They don’t value research. They aren’t seeking the truth. They fear monger to get naive, gullible, conspiracy theorists, flat-earth society members to give them money so they can fear monger more. I’m done here. If you ever do decide to value independent science you owe all the public scientists like Dr. Folta a big apology.

          • Goldfinger


            From the GMO Free USA site.

            “This compilation is a sample of the
            scientific references including over 2,000 studies, surveys, and
            analyses that suggest various adverse impacts and potential adverse
            impacts of genetically engineered (GE/GMO) crops, foods and related
            pesticides. This list contains references regarding health impacts,
            environmental impacts, including impact of non-target organisms (NTOs),
            resistance of target organisms, pesticide drift, genetic contamination,
            horizontal gene transfer, unintended effects, as well as references
            regarding yields, social impact, ethics, economics and regulations. In
            most cases, links are provided to the abstracts for the references or
            links to sites where the study can be purchased.”