10 Foods You Shouldn’t Buy Organic – and 12 You Should

Paying extra for organic food can take a big bite out of any budget. Want to get the biggest bang for your organic buck? Here’s what to buy – and what not to.

Better Investing

Grocery stores now have entire aisles packed with everything from organic pasta to all-natural soap. Sold at higher prices than conventional products, organic items aren’t produced with synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizers. They’re also not processed with food additives or irradiation (radiation exposure).

But are the higher prices for these theoretically safer products really worth it? A study by researchers at Stanford University reveals organic products aren’t necessarily more nutritional, nor are they less susceptible to contamination. From their report:

The review yielded scant evidence that conventional foods posed greater health risks than organic products. While researchers found that organic produce had a 30 percent lower risk of pesticide contamination than conventional fruits and vegetables, organic foods are not necessarily 100 percent free of pesticides. What’s more, as the researchers noted, the pesticide levels of all foods generally fell within the allowable safety limits.

Foods you shouldn’t buy organic

The thick skins on many fruits and vegetables protect them from pesticides. While pesticides may linger on banana peels, for example, we obviously don’t eat the peels. Many products also lack pesticides because they don’t attract as many insects and harmful organisms. Here’s 10 where organic is expensive overkill.

  1. Avocados
  2. Bananas
  3. Pineapple
  4. Asparagus
  5. Broccoli
  6. Onions
  7. Kiwi
  8. Cabbage
  9. Cantaloupe
  10. Sweet Corn

Find the best price on everything you buy on our deals page!

Foods you should buy organic

Despite the Stanford study’s statement that there’s no indication pesticides on conventionally-grown foods are harmful, many people are still willing to pay extra to avoid pesticides on their food. So where will you get the biggest bang for your organic food buck? Mentioned on the Environmental Working Group’s 2015 “Dirty Dozen” list, these foods are among the worst offenders.

  1. Apples
  2. Peaches
  3. Nectarines
  4. Strawberries
  5. Grapes
  6. Celery
  7. Spinach
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Snap Peas (Imported)
  12. Potatoes

They also mention one additional item, hot peppers.

The best way to save on organic food

In addition to the tools you’d use to save on anything – comparison shopping, buying in bulk, using coupons, etc. – the best way to save on organically grown food is to buy it locally. Local farmers markets and family farms are a great way to get fresh organic food for less and support your local community. See sites like Local Harvest for ideas in your area.

Got some wisdom to share, or have a question? Try hanging out in our new forums!

Sign up for our free newsletter

Like this article? Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you a regular digest of our newest stories, full of money saving tips and advice, free! We'll also email you a PDF of Stacy Johnson's "205 Ways to Save Money" as soon as you've subscribed. It's full of great tips that'll help you save a ton of extra cash. It doesn't cost a dime, so why wait? Click here to sign up now.

More Money Talks News!


  • MD

    Also from the Stanford study you cite:

    “If you look beyond health effects, there are plenty of other reasons to buy organic instead of conventional,” noted Bravata. She listed taste preferences and concerns about the effects of conventional farming practices on the environment and animal welfare as some of the reasons people choose organic products.

    Environmental impact and taste are much more important to me in deciding to buy local & organic products.

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,802 more deals!