12 Fruits and Vegetables to Buy Organic

The question of whether or not we should buy organic fruits/vegetables has been a hot topic for a long time. Be it uncertainty about the quality of organic vs. conventional fruits, or the amount of pesticides used, or if organics are truly higher in vitamin and mineral content, there rarely seem to be clear-cut facts at hand. And that's without mentioning the cost: Organic foods can be triple the price. So, are they really worth it?

According to a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a U.S. not-for-profit research organization, there are indeed many and various key fruits and vegetables that are "worth" the extra dollars, for the organic category. A list of foods that the EWG labels "The Dirty Dozen" highlights specific fruits and vegetables that retain the most pesticides and, as a result, are the ones that the group recommends buying organic:

1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Nectarines (imported to U.S.)
7. Grapes (imported to U.S.)
8. Sweet bell peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries (Domestic to U.S.)
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/collard greens

As you will have noticed in the parenthetic qualifiers above, this list is geo-targeted to the U.S., but you should bear in mind that Canada imports an estimated 80 per cent of our produce from other countries, and an estimated 80 per cent of that amount is from the U.S.

Does this mean you should never buy The Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables if you can't buy organic?
Of course not! The benefits from consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables far outweigh the risk of pesticides. So, the bottom line is that it is still better to have these foods than not have them at all. If you can afford the choice, though? For these specific fruits and vegetables, absolutely choose organic.

Maria Thomas is a registered dietitian and owner of UrbanNutrition.com.