Should You Buy Organic Produce in the Triangle?

should you buy organic produce?

Do you buy organic fruits and vegetables? Or, better yet, should you buy organic fruits and vegetables?  And is it even worth the money?

Families at our Growing Child Pediatrics locations frequently have questions about organic foods.  We hear so much in the news about pesticides, but, even if it is an issue, we don’t always have an answer as to how that can and should (affordably) influence our shopping decisions.  In fact, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzed U.S. Department of Agriculture tests and found that almost 70% of samples taken from conventionally grown fruits and vegetables contained pesticide residue.  Furthermore, many of the 178 pesticides found on foods can actually still contaminate foods after they are washed or peeled.

Thankfully, EWG produces two annual lists that helps us make sense of this at the grocery store.  They’re called the “Dirty 12 and Clean 15.”  

Dirty Dozen

If you can afford to purchase organic foods, but are wondering which foods to prioritize, start with these 12 foods.  These are foods which tend to have the highest levels of pesticide residues at the grocery store.  We understand that not everyone can afford organic produce.  However, if you want to look for the biggest return on your organic produce purchase in Raleigh-Durham, check out this list:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Potatoes

Clean 15

If you aren’t going to buy everything organic, you can start saving money here. These foods represent the clean end of the non-organically grown fruits and vegetables.  This means they tested lowest for pesticide residue.  You should still make sure to wash all of your fruits and vegetables, but these fifteen fruits and vegetables are one way to save money on your grocery bill.

  • Sweet Corn
  • Avocados
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Sweet Peas
  • Papayas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Honeydew
  • Kiwi
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit

Have additional questions about eating organic?  Or perhaps you would like to download a printable shoppers guide for when you head to the grocery store?  You can find both at EWG’s website.


Dr. David Katz has over thirty years of experience as a pediatrician. In addition to practicing general pediatrics, Dr. Katz has expanded his medical expertise to other facets of medicine, including special training in the relatively new modality of Functional Medicine. Learn more about Dr. Katz.