Organic Food: When It’s Worth Spending More

Everyone has officially bought into the “organic” food craze, and with that has come an increased willingness pay more for food that claims to be natural and environmentally friendly. Sometimes there’s only slight differences in price, but oftentimes organic can be substantially more expensive (sometimes double!), which has me wondering… c’mon, is it REALLY worth spending more?

If you’re broke and can’t afford to buy organic, this may make you feel better: there are government limits in place that ensure safe levels of pesticide use on produce. Obviously pesticides on any level are toxic, and we all want choices that are better for the environment (because apparently the earth doesn’t like toxins and synthetic fertilizers, and animals aren’t into being cooped up in small cages and being strung out on hormones). In the end, organic is still freaking expensive, so this is the guideline I personally use when deciding on what deserves the extra cost:

Invest in organic:

*Fruit that has no protective skin: peaches, apples, nectarines, strawberries, cherries. Or buy locally and scrub the skin.

*Grapes, spinach and lettuce: apparently international grapes are terrible for pesticides so get local when possible.

*Potatoes, bell peppers, celery and carrots: these are all pesticide intensive.

*MILK: This is a big one. Cows raised on conventional farms are given growth hormones to increase the amount of milk they produce. They are probably really emotional cows. Spend the extra money.

*Beef/chicken: organic means the animal has not been treated with antibiotics, growth hormones, or feed made from animalorganic cow byproducts…so they are happier, emotionally-adjusted and maybe even tastier.

*Peanut butter: If you eat a ton of PB like I do, make sure the only ingredients listed are peanuts and salt. There should be NO hydrogenated oils or sugar added. Organic Peanut butter has separation of natural oils that may freak some people out, but just stir it up and it will be just fine.

Skip organic:

*Fruits with tough peels: papayas, mangos, bananas – the peel absorbs the pesticides.

*Broccoli, cauliflower and peas (we should all eat more peas – a serving has more protein than an egg and less than one gram fat! Who knew).

*Asparagus, corn, and onions.


What does the label mean?

*100% organic – no synthetic ingredients

*Organic – min of 95% organic ingredients

*“Made with organic ingredients” at least 70%organic

*“free range” “hormone free” and “natural” are NOT organic.

If you’re one of those new-age yogi types, you probably buy organic everything. I’m all for keeping the earth healthy, but until prices become more reasonable, I’m sticking to these guidelines. I’ll probably be attacked with yoga mats and goji berries after this post, but just to give myself a little more credibility… I was named Project Clean Food’s Clean Foodie of the Month! Check it out:


  1. Awesome write up! :o)

  2. Pingback: “Healthy” Trends That Are A Waste Of Money | The Frugal Model

  3. Ali Richards says:

    Have you watched documentaries like Food Inc., Fresh…? If you go onto netflix the food documentaries are amazing! They will change your attitude and enlighten your food choices considerably. Organic is more expensive but a lot of the time it will force you to eat less and be pickier. Quality vs quantity seems to be a theme you prefer anyway. If you are going to put yourself out there, it’s always a good thing to be as informed as possible. Just food for thought! But I do love your blog and appreciate all the time you put into it.

    • Ali Richards says:

      Also, sadly, the FDA does not always have the best interests in mind when it comes to the consumer. They are controlled by food lobbies. They would rather profit than actually help us. My friend worked for them for a long time and unfortunately can validate this. The more you know, the more educated you can be about your food. We as consumers though can make better choices and have a huge impact on the food market. The best way to shop is local and organic if possible. You are extremely lucky to live in a place like NYC. The food options there are endless and amazing!

    • Thank you so much! I did watch Food Inc and it definitely made me cut down my meat intake and become more aware of my food choices. Unfortunately not everyone can afford to eat this way, so thought it would be helpful to point out the times you can save and not feel so guilty about it!

  4. Hi! Thought I’d throw in a suggestion about the organic peanut butter. For people that don’t necessarily like the taste of peanut butter (as much) without the sugar added try organic almond butter. It’s made with almonds, and tastes better to me than plain organic peanut butter. Cashew butter is good, too. They’re both on the shelf right beside the peanut butter at places like Whole Foods. Yummy!!

  5. Pingback: 10 Easy Ways to Eat Organic and Healthy on a Budget - The Frugal Model

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