home + garden

Buying Organic Fruits and Vegetables

Go Gingham Stylishly Frugal Living

While I’d like to buy all organic fruits and vegetables, it’s not feasible for our food budget. During the summer months, it’s easy to know what chemicals are on our vegetables (none) because we try to grow most of them ourselves. When I head to the grocery store, however, there are certain fruits and vegetables that I only buy organic. How do I make this decision? I follow the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) recommendations for clean fruits and vegetables.

Found garden space from Go Gingham
This walkway used to have nothing but now I grow lots of veggies here – in pots that my neighbors were getting rid of!

EWG breaks down fruits and vegetables into different categories based on the amount of pesticides used on the foods. I use this list to make our organic and non-organic produce buying decisions.

The Clean 15

These are the fruits and vegetables that I buy that are conventionally grown.

  • Onions
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Domestic cantaloupe
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Watermelon
  • Mushrooms

The Dirty 14

These are the fruits and vegetables that I spend the money on to buy organic.

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Imported nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Domestic blueberries
  • Potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Leafy greens

I also only buy organic carrots although they aren’t on this list. Here’s why I skip the baby carrots and go with the long ones.

Buying Organic Produce
Cucumbers! Maybe they didn’t get enough water? Not sure but we grew them so we ate them.

What do I do when the vegetable garden that’s jammed into every corner of our yard is done giving us good, healthy food? Or the incredible farmers’ markets come to a close for the season? Or when I’ve run out of food because my teenagers have devoured it all (again!)? I look for the Earthbound Farm Organic products at my regular grocery store. They’ve got what I would rather grow myself except that our growing season comes to an end – and the rain settles in to stay.

What I like about Earthbound Farm Organic, is that they’ve made organic fruits and vegetables affordable and accessible to many people around the country. Their products are reasonably priced and I’m getting quality, certified organic produce. They also come in containers that I can easily recycle and that don’t squish the lettuce (and lettuces!).

It’s fast food, too

What do we buy? Their packaged organic salads, lettuces and greens. They’re priced right in line with conventional salads and are a quick and easy way to get healthy food on the table. They also have smaller packages of greens that can be eaten for lunch on the go. That’s my kind of fast food!

Chickens backyard
Don’t be fooled by my chickens – they’re not helping me garden. They did get to munch on the beds after we harvested them.

Deciding whether to buy organic or non-organic fruits and vegetables is a tough decision for me. Mostly because I would like all organic – all the time – but, understandably, it costs more and with a hungry family, we can’t do it for everything all the time.

How do you decide between organic and non-organic produce choices? What’s your method?

Go Gingham related links:

Saving seeds and reusing them in the garden!
My non-gardener-gardening-strategy – yes, non gardeners can fake it
Three easy herbs to grow – you won’t be able to kill these, I promise!
Composting tips – add richness to your soil with scraps from the kitchen
Raised garden beds – It’s easy to convert grass to growing space
Earthbound Farm – farm stand tour
My trip to Earthbound Farm including a tractor ride!
Our grid-garden using “Square Foot Gardening” methods – using wood scraps and twine

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Earthbound Farm Organic. Thank you for supporting brands that help support Go Gingham. This is being disclosed in accordance with the FTC’s guidelines. If you want to sign up for their blog, you can do that here – and it’s free.

9 thoughts on “Buying Organic Fruits and Vegetables

  1. We use the EWG’s lists, too. I wish we could buy all organic, but we have to stay in budget.

    This spring we’re going to put concerted effort into container gardening so we can grow as much of our own as we can.

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    1. Shannon, you’ll be amazed at how much you can grow yourself in containers! We still have greens growing now and it’s almost December – although they are a tougher and much darker colors than they were in the spring/summer. Thanks, Shannon.

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  2. I just moved to a rural area, and the organic selection isn’t the same as in bigger cities. However, our freezer is overflowing with vegetables and fruits from the local farmers’ market. The only drawback is that I don’t know if chemicals were used, but it matters more to me that I support local growers and get fresh, delicious produce. I hope to start my own garden next summer.

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    1. Rebecca,
      Smart to utilize the freezer! It is true – cities do seem to have more options when it comes to fruit and veggies than rural areas.
      Another consideration is the local vs. organic choice…you’re right! And, supporting local farmers is so important.
      There are truly many factors involved!
      For your own garden, start with arugula and other greens and lettuces. With warm soil, they’re up in not time and you’ll be feeling like an accomplished gardener! Good luck.

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  3. When considering whether we can afford to purchase organic food, it is important to take a social justice perspective into account, as well. Is the $10 we save on our total grocery bill not buying organic worth the knowledge that conventionally grown produce causes cancer, respiratory problems, and other health ailments to the farm workers around the globe that labor to produce and harvest our food?

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  4. The only bummer about the “Clean 15” is that many of them are GMO. That’s the reason they are pesticide free. It’s not a good trade-off. You really need to try to buy all organic. Period. It doesn’t cost that much more.

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