Want to know the best organic food to eat, and the food you don’t need to eat if money is tight? Read on!

Organic food has been scientifically cited as being better for you but can be more expensive to buy. Therefore, I’ve been doing a little research into what organic food to eat and which organic food you don’t necessarily need to buy if money is tight.  That research led me to the Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK), which published the best and worst food in the UK for pesticide residues.

In my list of organic food to eat, I’ve listed the foods that PAN UK found to have the highest levels of pesticide residues.  These are the ones that are worth spending a little bit more money on for the organic versions.  For example, 90% of pears that PAN UK sampled were found to have pesticide residues, and that figure is 89% for apples and 88% for grapes.

In the list of organic foods you don’t need to buy, I’ve listed the foods that they found to have the lowest levels of pesticide residues.  Here, if your budget is tight then you can save your money and buy the regular non-organic versions.

If you’re a Moral Fibres US reader then do check out the Environmental Working Group Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides for information for your area.

The Organic Food To Eat

Image of fruit on a white background with a blue text box that reads the best organic food to eat and the ones you can avoid.

These fruit and vegetables tend to have high levels of pesticide use associated with their growth, so these are the foods you should eat organic and seasonally if you can:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Beans in a Pod
  • Carrots
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Courgettes & Marrows
  • Cucumber
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Lettuce
  • Nectarines
  • Parsnips
  • Peas in a Pod
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Yams

You might be wondering about citrus fruit being on the organic food to eat list. PAN UK found that 100% of soft citrus fruit that they tested had pesticide residue, hence why you should buy the organic version if you can.  

I had always been of the opinion that as you’re peeling them, and have no intention of zesting them, then you don’t need to buy organic citrus fruit.  Unless you’re making organic marmalade of course. However, PAN UK say that modern pesticides are what are known as ‘systemic’. This means that the pesticides are absorbed into the plant. From there, these pesticides are then distributed throughout the plant’s tissues, reaching the fruits and/or flowers. As a result, pesticide residues are often contained within the body of the fruit itself. This means that washing the surface or peeling the fruit won’t remove these chemicals.

The Ones You Can Give A Miss

According to PAN UK, these are the fruit and vegetables that tend to have lower levels of pesticide use associated with their growth. Therefore you can buy the non-organic versions if your food shopping budget doesn’t stretch as far as the organic versions:

  • Aubergines
  • Bananas
  • Celery
  • Chilli
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Ginger
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Leeks
  • Melons
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Plums
  • Potatoes
  • Raspberries
  • Spinach
  • Star Fruit

Here’s a simple way to wash fruit and vegetables to remove pesticides, backed up by science.

The Pesticide Problem

You might be wondering what the big deal about pesticides on our food is. PAN worryingly found 122 different pesticides in the 12 most polluted products. The problem is that many of these pesticides are hazardous to human health. In fact, 61% are classified as highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs). This is a concept used by the UN to identify those substances most harmful to human health or the environment.

 It just goes to show you the multitude of chemicals that we are exposed to on a daily basis, through what we put in our mouths.

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