If You Can Only Go Semi-Organic, Which Foods Should You Focus On?

Let’s face it, organic seems to be the way to go these days, whether its fruits, vegetables, meat or dairy. Unfortunately, organic often comes at a hefty price. If you want to go organic but can’t afford to go “all the way” due to the confines of your pocketbook, you can still get the health benefits of organic foods by knowing which foods to focus on. If you want to go “semi-organic,” you need to learn which foods have the most contaminants and which do not necessarily need to be 100 percent organic.

Some of the foods that are the most contaminated when it comes to pesticides include fruits. Fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, plums, grapes, cherries, blueberries, strawberries and other berries contain pesticides that remain on the fruit even after you wash it. Although these foods are considered “good for you” they contain pesticides that may negate their health benefits. And while you could peel certain fruits to ensure reduced exposure to pesticides (such as apples or pears), you then miss out on the important nutrients those skins provide.

Fruits such as pineapple, bananas, kiwi, mangoes and oranges do not carry the same content of pesticides because of their relatively thick skins. If you want to go semi-organic, you do not need to worry so much about getting the full organic versions of these fruits.

Vegetables are another type of food that many people shop organic. But if you can’t quite afford to choose organic with all of your veggies, there are some that are lower on the pesticide scale. Onions, asparagus, broccoli and cabbage all have a fairly low “pest threat” and therefore require less pesticide to begin with. Sweet peas and eggplant are two of the vegetables least likely to have pesticide residue. Sweet corn and sweet potatoes are two other options for semi-organic consumers.

But, on the other hand, there are certain vegetables where you would definitely want to choose the organic variety. These include peppers, celery, carrots, kale, leafy greens and regular potatoes.

When it comes to meats, you should look for organic meats and poultry as the regular versions often contain growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticide residue (from the grain fed to the animals) and other harmful chemicals. The same goes for milk and other dairy products. For your best health, it would be wise to invest in organic meats and dairy.

Fish is one food that you might not think you have to worry about when it comes to organics, especially “wild” fish. After all, how could something grown in the wild be non-organic? It may seem like a backwards way to go about it, but wild fish are not included on the USDA’s list of organic foods. It actually comes down to what the fish eat: in a controlled fish farm environment, the farmers can ensure the fish are fed only organic nutrients. But in the wild, that same guarantee does not exist. Currently a limited amount of seafood is being sold as organic at stores in the United States, usually because it was certified by other countries or by third-party accreditation agencies.

One type of food you might not think to go organic with is bread. Organic breads do not contain the additives and preservatives that regular breads do, which mean fewer chemicals to which you and your family are exposed. Remember that if you go for organic breads, they will not last as long as breads that are filled with preservatives, so choose a smaller loaf if you don’t think you can finish it before the mold sets in. Want to go a health step further? Opt for whole grain breads when going organic.

Similar to breads, cereals are another item in which you want to go organic. The amount of chemicals in regular cereals, not to mention the sugars, is frightening. If you want to feed your family healthy cereal, look for organic versions. Most are available at your local grocery store or health food store.

It’s true . . . organic foods are more costly and can be out of the price range for some people. But, the good news is that you do not have to go organic all the way to enjoy the benefits of organic foods. By choosing some foods that are organic and others that are still considered “healthy,” you are well on your way to improving your health and well being, as well as that of your family.