In a perfect world the answer to this question would be everything! However, organic foods can cost significantly more, which can be a limiting factor for all of us. Yes, nutritionists have budgets, too. A quick rule of thumb when deciding where to spend your money is to start at the top of the food chain and work your way down. Use this chart as a reference of where to spend and where to save:
If you are going to spend your money on one thing make sure you are buying organic meat and dairy. In order for an animal product to be labeled organic it cannot receive antibiotics or growth hormones. It also must be fed vegetarian grain that was grown without chemicals and come from a mother who was fed the same grain during the end of her pregnancy.
Produce Where You Eat the Skin
When produce is sprayed with pesticides it naturally hits the skin first and then soaks into the fruit or vegetable. Therefore produce where you eat the skin will give you a double dose of pesticides. Always choose organic when buying these “Dirty Dozen” – peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes.
Produce Where You Peel the Skin
Produce with thicker skin is less likely to absorb the pesticides and you will discard the skin before eating. Here are some foods that you are safe to buy conventionally: asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, kiwi, mango, onions, papaya and pineapple.
Most grains have been shown to be very low in pesticides, with the exception of rice. So spend a little extra on organic rice and save your money on everything else!
Tara Coleman is a Clinical Nutritionist living in San Diego, CA. She blogs twice a month with “Tara’s Friday Bite.” Leave us your comments with ideas for future topics or email Tara directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.