Raise your hand if you are a little confused by organic foods and what to buy organic.

While we were picking topics to discuss here on BuddingVeg.com, we came across a good one: organics.

We decided to start by determining the top 10 foods to buy organic. We all had ideas, and there was a lot of commonality; greens, cucumbers, and fruit all came up as what to buy organic. All of us were a little confused on what qualifies a food as organic and we were more confused about what foods were okay to buy “standard” and what to buy organic.

So we decided to go to the source and make an attempt to decipher exactly what to buy organic so that we could share our findings with you!

What we found shocked us.

We learned that the USDA has a program called the Pesticide Data Program (DDP) and its primary role is “to analyze pesticide residues on agricultural commodities in the US food supply, with an emphasis on those commodities highly consumed by infants and children.”

We took a little time with the 2009 and 2011 reports. There were definite patterns. In both reports, we honed in on appendixes B and K, the listings that neatly summarized all their results.

Based on what we learned from the reports we have decided that we will be trying to buy the following 10 foods organic. We base our list on a few factors:

  • How many times did the USDA detect a specific pesticide in 10% or more of the samples?
  • The number of samples where multiple pesticides were detected.
  • Common sense associations i.e. Cilantro is representative of herbs in general.

Top 10 List:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Grapes
  3. Apples
  4. Spinach
  5. Herbs (USDA tested cilantro)
  6. Cucumbers
  7. Pears
  8. Peppers (all types)
  9. Potatoes
  10. Berries

Honorable Mention goes to: snap peas, peaches/nectarines/apricots/plums, lettuce/greens, and cherry tomatoes

Based on our research, strawberries are the most pesticide, herbicide, and fungicide rich food at the store. Too bad! Good thing there are lots of organic strawberries and strawberry products at the stores at great prices.

There was one stat that we just cannot let go. In it involved spinach. In 2009, 52.1% of spinach samples tested positive for permethrin total.  Permethrin total is an insecticide that is a known carcinogen and suspected to be an endocrine disruptor.  We know, shocking.

In 2011 the PDP did not test fresh spinach so we do not have an accurate comparison to 2009, but they did test canned and frozen spinach which showed levels of 63.1% and 17.2% respectively.

We found our research into what to buy organic to be rather enlightening. We hope that you find it helpful too! We have provided our sources so that you can see what we were seeing and draw your own conclusions. Here at BuddingVeg.com we like to give YOU the information so that you can make the best decision for yourself.

We would love to hear from you about what foods you choose to buy organic and why. Please leave us a comment or join the conversation on social media.

Much Love,


Additional Resources:
2009 PDP Report:
2011 PDP Report:
USDA Pesticide Data Program (PDP)


Image Courtesy of Ambro via freedigitalphotos.net

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