How to Decide When Organic Produce Is Worth the Extra Money

By Jennifer Dubowsky
Jennifer Dubowsky
Jennifer Dubowsky
October 25, 2015 Updated: October 25, 2015

Organic fruits and vegetables can be expensive and I pick and choose the ones I buy. The big factor that influences my decision about buying organic produce is the level of pesticides used in their production.

Organic produce contains fewer pesticides. Pesticides are a problem because:

  1. Pesticides can accumulate in your system. Most of us have been exposed to pesticides for so long that our bodies have stored up chemicals that can strain a weak immune system and lead to health problems such as headaches and birth defects.
  2. Exposure to pesticides at an early age can cause developmental delays, behavioral disorders, and motor dysfunction. Not surprisingly, children and fetuses are most vulnerable to pesticide exposure because their bodies (particularly their immune systems) and brains are still developing.
  3. Pesticides put strain on already taxed organs so pregnant women are more vulnerable. Pesticides can be passed from mother to child in the womb, as well as through breast milk.

The following foods are considered to be the “dirty dozen” according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that analyzes the results of government pesticide testing in the U.S. so,

Try to Buy Organic:




*sweet bell peppers




*imported grapes



 (rated THE WORST)
*spinach and potatoes did not do well either

The following non-organic fruits and vegetables have low pesticide levels because most have thicker skin or peel which protects them better from pests, and means that farmers do not need to use many pesticides.

Non-Organic Fruits and Vegetables With Low Pesticide Levels:


*Avocado (both onion and avocado were rated lowest in pesticides)
*Peas (sweet)

When you are shopping, remember 2 facts.

1. “Natural” does not equal organic. “Natural” is an unregulated term that is applied carelessly to market products. Only the “USDA Organic” label indicates that a food is certified organic.

2. Organic doesn’t equal healthy. Junk food can just as easily be made using organic ingredients. These products are usually still very high in sugar, salt, fat or calories.

Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc, is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in downtown Chicago, Illinois, since 2002. Dubowsky earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from University of Illinois in Chicago and her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado. During her studies, she completed an internship at the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China. Dubowsky has researched and written articles on Chinese medicine and has given talks on the topic. She maintains a popular blog about health and Chinese medicine at Acupuncture Blog Chicago. Adventures in Chinese Medicine is her first book. You can find her at