Organic is always a healthier option. But it's also a costly one. So you're faced with a daunting question—save myself from some nasty chemicals or save my dough? The key is to be strategic in your organic purchases. By choosing the right versions of certain foods, you can increase the percentage of good stuff in your diet without major changes to your cart or your spending.
The USDA found pesticides and fungicide residue in nearly all milk, cream and butter samples from their most recent study. Plus, there is evidence that organic dairy has higher levels of vital Omega-3 fatty acids.
Known as the Environmental Working Group's "dirty dozen," apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, grapes, bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries and leafy greens are the most susceptible to contamination.
Conventional beef in the US is routinely loaded up with antibiotics and hormones (which have been linked to a slew of health problems for humans). Go organic or look for grass-fed, which is leaner and less likely to have been given antibiotics.
Poultry isn't given any hormones, and any pesticides in the chicken's feed won't transfer to the meat. But conventional chicken can be administered antibiotics, so make an effort to eat organic or free-range when possible.
Like poultry, pigs and sheep aren't given any hormones, so conventional meat is much safer than beef. But the organic meat is always fresher and often more tender and juicy.
Organic eggs aren't as important as cage-free, which means the eggs don't come from hens that have been stuffed into small coops. Healthier chickens make for better eggs.
Because most grow in wild waters, it's impossible to know what chemicals they've encountered, so the USDA has no guidelines for certifying organic seafood. Instead, look for ecologically responsible "sustainable" fish.
The ones with a peel like avocado, pineapple, banana, kiwi, mangoes, citrus fruits, squash, onions and melons. And others that simply don't require or retain pesticides like broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.