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organic totem pole.

Call me paranoid but with two small kids it’s important to me to eat as fresh and natural as possible.  I realize there’s a lot of debate about organic vs. non-organic and whether or not it’s worth the additional investment, but as our budget allows I try to pick up some of the organic options for items the kids eat most often (milk, applesauce, yogurt, produce for baby food, etc).

So I’ve included the following Organic Totem Pole so that you can prioritize what organic foods to include in your shopping cart.  These are fruits and veggies – because dairy and meat have different regulations it is harder to determine specific pesticide levels for those foods.

What is Organic?

According to the USDA, “Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.”

The frugal foodie family Organic Totem Pole

Most Contaminated (and worth the additional investment)

  •         Peaches
  •         Apples
  •         Bell Peppers
  •         Celery
  •         Nectarines
  •         Strawberries
  •         Cherries
  •         Pears
  •         Grapes (Imported)
  •         Spinach
  •         Lettuce
  •         Potatoes

   Least Contaminated (lower on the totem pole)

  •         Onions
  •         Avocado
  •         Corn (Frozen)
  •         Pineapple
  •         Mango
  •         Asparagus
  •         Peas (Frozen)
  •         Kiwi
  •         Bananas
  •         Cabbage
  •         Broccoli
  •         Papaya

A good rule of thumb is that foods with outer peels contain lower amounts of pesticides.

Best Prices on Organic Foods

  • TJs and Sprouts
  • Farmers Markets
  • CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) like Local Harvest
  • Grow your own!  That way you are sure to know exactly what is in your food.  Plus it’s way cheaper.

So, what’s your take on organic versus non-organic?  Is it all hype or do you prioritize organic in your budget?

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. If you are slightly paranoid, I must be a full blown conspiracy theorist!

    I used to subscribe to the same totem pole theory. Well, sort of. I think I was always wanting to do more, but my husband wasn’t totally on board. Then we watched Food Inc., he read Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan), I read Eating Animals (Jonathon Saffron Foer, very much a vegetarian bent, but still lots of eye opening information about the food industry), and I just finished In Defense of Food (also Michael Pollan).

    After all that we pretty much agreed that we won’t eat animal products unless we know that the animals were not only given organic diets or access to the outdoors, but the diets they are naturally supposed to eat (even organic beef, for example, is finished on “organic” corn in a feedlot, which is really bad for their bodies). So that means we pay much more for our animal products (meat, eggs, milk, cheese, etc.) than most people and I know most people I know think we’re crazy and that it is kind of ridiculous. But it also means we eat less of those things so we can have a semi-normal budget (my kids used to be allergic to dairy anyway and don’t have much of a taste for it, plus the “alternative” milks like almond and hemp are as expensive as what we currently pay for our raw grass-fed milk) and instead eat a lot of fruit and vegetables which we can get organic from our CSA or the farmer’s market for pretty reasonable prices.

    I think it’s worth it. I like the idea of supporting small farmers too and not big corporations/conglomerates. Plus, eating a mostly plant based diet is supposed to be healthier for you anyway. Through government subsidies we’ve made cheap milk, eggs, meat, etc and our consumption levels of these things have gone through the roof. At the same time, our levels of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart problems, obesity, etc have risen. Coincidence? I think not.

    June 2, 2011
    • Wow! You really know your stuff!
      I do agree that it seems like there is a correlation between our food and environment and disease rates increasing. It’s all a bit scary.

      June 3, 2011
  2. So nice meeting you last night too!

    June 5, 2011

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