Conscientious Cook: What Should You Buy Organic?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Here’s the scenario: you’re trying to stick to a pretty tight food budget, but you’re also conscientious about the food you buy. You can only afford to buy one or two organic items a week. What do you buy? And just as importantly, why?

There’s a lot of conflicting opinions out there about which products are truly best to buy organic. One group says that you should only ever buy organic milk, another group says potatoes, yet another pushes organic beef. Sometimes the reason is to avoid pesticides or additives, sometimes it’s because the conventional way has such a negative environmental impact.

On a limited budget, how do you choose?

We think that the best way to decide which organic products you should buy is to take a look at your diet. If you can consistently afford to buy one organic product a week, buy the product that you eat the most. If you drink a gallon of milk a week, make it organic milk. If you eat a ton of fruits and vegetables, figure out which you eat the most and buy those organically. This will have the biggest impact on both your overall health and your buying power as a consumer.

Here are a few resources explaining the differences between some organic and conventional products:

FAQ’s about Organic Milk from the National Dairy Council
The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen Fruits and Vegetables from the Environmental Working Group
Full List of Fruits and Vegetables by Ranked by Pesticide Load from the Environmental Working Group
Organic Meat: The Easy Choice from the Organic Report
National Organic Program Homepage from the USDA

What foods do you buy organic and why?

(Image: Flickr member D Sharon Pruitt licensed under Creative Commons)