Best Fruits and Vegetables to Buy Organic

If you're starting to shop organic, begin with these 14 fruits and vegetables to minimize exposure to pesticides.

  • Sweet Summertime
    Southern Living Farmers Market Cookbook

    Navigating the Organic Produce Aisle

    Choosing organic can minimize your exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals used in traditional farming. Plus, researchers at the University of California at Davis found that, on average, organic produce contains more vitamin C, iron, and magnesium compared to traditionally grown foods. While the scientific research is still developing, the organic grocery aisle is expanding.

    If you're beginning to shop organic, the Environmental Working Group suggests starting with the following 14 fruits and vegetables that are most commonly treated with high concentrations of pesticides.

    To get your taste buds motivated, we've paired each food with a recipe to maximize its flavor.

     

  • Apple Galette
    James Carrier

    Apples

    Tart, fresh apples work best in our Apple Galette recipe. Research from the Environmental Working Group shows that 98 percent of conventional apples had pesticides, so buy organic tart apples at the supermarket or visit a local orchard. You can find a listing of orchards by location at AllAboutApples.com.

    Watch our video on peeling, coring, and chopping apples.

    Recipe: Apple Galette

  • Date and Celery Salad
    James Carrier

    Celery

    Celery is listed at the No. 2 produce item to buy organic. You'll need a bunch of celery that weighs about 1 3/4 pounds for this chilled salad recipe. Prepare the dates, cheese, and celery up to 4 hours ahead and assemble the salad just before serving, adding parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar.

    Recipe: Date and Celery Salad

  • Sweet Bell Peppers
    Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Lydia DeGaris-Pursell

    Sweet Bell Peppers

    Sautéed sweet bell peppers and balsamic vinegar add a delicious sweetness to a chicken sandwich. Top with melted cheese, and you have a satisfying warm meal. Buy a variety of red, green, yellow, and orange organic bell peppers at your local farmers market for a colorful addition to sandwiches, salads, and sides.

    Learn how bell peppers are a superfood.

    Watch how to make this recipe and how to slice and chop this tasty vegetable.

    Recipe: Balsamic-Glazed Chicken and Bell Pepper Sandwiches

  • Peach and Brie Quesadillas with Lime-Honey Dipping Sauce

    Peaches

    Peaches rank No. 4 on the list of produce most susceptible to pesticides thanks to their soft skin. Regardless of organic or conventional, make sure to wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly with clean water and if desired, serve peeled. Try the fresh stone fruit in this intriguing savory-sweet appetizer.

    Watch how to make this recipe and how to slice peaches.

    Recipe: Peach and Brie Quesadillas with Lime-Honey Dipping Sauce

  • Strawberries
    Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Jan Gautro

    Strawberries

    Buy organic strawberries and roast the berries with vanilla, butter, and sugar to tenderize and sweeten them. Then borrow a technique from the savory side of the kitchen by simmering the pan juices with wine and vinegar. The result is fragrant, fruity, rich, and light all at once.

    Watch our how-to video on preparing strawberries and learn what makes strawberries a superfood.

    Recipe: Vanilla-Roasted Strawberries

  • Nectarines
    Randy Mayor

    Nectarines

    You'll be amazed at how tasty these simple snacks are. Organic peaches or plums also work well in place of the nectarines. You can assemble the bundles up to an hour in advance. Just cover them with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Recipe: Nectarine, Prosciutto, and Arugula Bundles

  • Sparkling Grape Juice-Lemonade
    Photo: John O'Hagan; Styling: Ashley Andrews Jackson

    Grapes (imported)

    Freeze a bunch of organic grapes for about 4 hours for a frosting addition to a pitcher of white grape juice lemonade.  The frozen grapes taste great and also help keep the lemonade cold.

    Recipe: Sparkling Grape Juice-Lemonade 

  • Waldorf Spinach Salad
    Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Annette Joseph

    Spinach

    Add fresh organic spinach to traditional Waldorf salad ingredients—apple, raisins, and nuts—and replace the high-fat mayonnaise dressing with a lower-fat vinaigrette.

    Recipe: Waldorf Spinach Salad  

  • Asparagus and Butterhead Lettuce Salad
    Photo: Leigh Beisch; Styling: Merilee Bordin

    Lettuce

    You can use any tender, sweet organic lettuce in place of butterhead in this easy salad featuring asparagus, tiny mozzarella balls, and pine nuts.

    Recipe: Asparagus and Butterhead Lettuce Salad 

  • Cucumbers and Onions
    Photo: Rick Lew; Styling: Sara Foster

    Cucumbers

    Instead of peeling the cucumbers for this recipe, you just score the cucumbers and cut them into rounds, making this 5-ingredient salad super easy to prepare.   In the most recent research from the Environmental Working Group, conventional celery tested positive for 57 different pesticides.

    Recipe: Cucumbers and Onions

  • Blueberry Crisp à la Mode
    Becky Luigart-Stayner

    Blueberries (domestic)

    This crisp is simple enough for a weeknight treat and elegant enough to serve your dinner guests. Use organic blueberries, and spread the blueberry and sugar mixture into a baking dish. Sprinkle with streusel topping, and bake until bubbly. Serve with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt for a little sweetness.

    See why bluberries are a superfood.

    Recipe: Blueberry Crisp à la Mode

  • Slow-cooked Potatoes
    James Carrier

    Potatoes

    Use this recipe's basic cooking technique to discover what a treat carefully cooked organic potatoes are in their skins with butter and parsley. In addition to being a tried-and-true side dish, these potatoes are great for making potato salad because the potatoes have not absorbed much water.

    Watch our how-to videos for slicing and chopping and baking potatoes.

    Recipe: Slow-cooked Potatoes

  • Garlic Green Beans
    Photo: William Dickey; Styling: Rose Nguyen

    Green Beans

    Dress up humble garden-fresh green beans with a little garlic, butter, salt, pepper, and olive oil for a simple side dish.

    Recipe: Garlic Green Beans

  • Garlic-Roasted Kale
    Photo: Jonny Valiant; Styling: Deborah Williams

    Kale/Greens

    Roasting organic kale is amazing—the leaves turn from a dusty dark green to dark emerald with brown-tinged curly edges that crunch.

    Recipe: Garlic-Roasted Kale

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