7 Foods You Don’t Have to Buy Organic

organic foods at farmers marketAmong the core pillars of health is consuming the very best quality food possible. Reasonably, however, few people can fill our shopping carts with absolutely nothing however regional, natural, pesticide-free, grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild-caught, non-GMO food. Top-tier alternatives might not be offered year-round where you live, and even if they are, they may not fit your budget plan.

The majority of people need to choose where it’s rewarding to purchase natural and where it’s all right to select less-than-perfect-but-still-perfectly-good standard alternatives. I’ve formerly covered the leading 10 foods you need to aim to purchase natural. Today, I’ll attempt to make things a little much easier by offering a list of the foods which are great in their standard kind.

This isn’t to state you shouldn’t purchase these products natural if you can access and manage them. Some would argue that even if the following standard foods are reasonably safe, you need to still purchase natural in order to support natural growers and safeguard the environment from direct exposure to farming chemicals. That’s completely legitimate and part of the reason that I shop natural, however it’s likewise a subject for another time. The objective today is to assist you focus on where to invest your hard-earned cash while optimizing your and your household’s health.

So, what daily Primal staples can you purchase standard?

Coconut and Coconut Products

Primal folks enjoy our coconut. We sauté with coconut oil and slather it onto veggies, sweet potatoes, hair, skin, and underarms. We make healthy smoothies and curries with coconut milk and cream. We consume over coconut butter, commemorating its splendor with an oily spoon. And when we’ve been running or training especially hard, coconut water offers much-needed electrolytes.

Fortunately for us, it doesn’t appear like natural versus standard coconut makes a huge distinction. A number of research studies have actually tried to find pesticide residues in coconut items and show up practically empty-handed. There’s this 2010 research study, which was not able to discover any pesticide residues in unrefined coconut oil. Poly-aromatic hydrocarbons, which are produced throughout the coconut flesh fast drying procedure and are carcinogenic, were identified in unrefined coconut oil however were gotten rid of in the refining procedure. Virgin unrefined coconut oil might still include these hydrocarbons unless it’s wet-milled and processed without quick-drying the flesh. Nevertheless, that opts for both natural and standard coconut oil.

Other studies have found low or undetectable levels of pesticides in coconut pulp, crude and refined coconut oil, and coconut water.

Coconut milk is also going to be as free from pesticides as any other coconut product. Since it comes from fresh flesh, not the dried, heat-treated stuff, coconut milk should also be free of poly-aromatic hydrocarbons.

Onions Don’t Need to Be Organic

Onions don’t just make you cry for cutting them, they make pests weep at the thought of eating them. Onions are naturally resistant to pests, so there’s no need to douse them with tons of pesticides. Big Agra may cut corners and prioritize profit over quality or consumer health, but that just means they won’t fork out the money for chemicals if they don’t have to. They’re not comic book villains, dumping drums of noxious endocrine disruptors and carcinogens onto their crops to punish us.

Onions are consistently near the top of the EWG’s Clean 15 list. Most of the 333 chemicals the USDA tests as part of their Pesticide Data Program (PDP) are undetectable on onions year after year. The small minority that do show up on tests all come in well under EPA Tolerance Levels.

There is also very little, if any, advantage to natural onions from a health perspective. Unlike many other fruits and vegetables, conventionally grown onions have the same level of polyphenols as organically grown onions. So, feel free to go wild with standard onions.


Avocados are another safe food that ends up with some of the lowest pesticide residues around. Maybe it’s the scaly skin and the way they just kinda “lurk” there up in tree tricking pests into thinking they’re up against alligators. Maybe it’s the fact that a bug got burned one too many times with a beautiful-looking avocado that turned out to be stringy and brown on the inside. Maybe pests just hate waiting for an avocado to ripen (who doesn’t?) and give up.

Actually, even though growers sometimes apply a significant amount of chemicals on avocado orchards, they don’t make it into the fatty, delicious flesh we crave and consume. Much like our friend the coconut, the hard outer shell offers pretty good defense. However, avocado farmers, both organic and conventional, do use extensive amounts of copper as a fungicide. Copper is an essential nutrient, but too much can be harmful. A single Florida avocado contains 0.9 mg, which is about 100% of the RDI, so don’t go around eating several a day.

Can Honey Even Be Organic?

The idea of organic honey is fantastic. Who wouldn’t want to eat honey produced by bees who dined exclusively on organic, wild, untouched, pure flowers? I sure would.

But the reality is that bees will be bees. They’re going to buzz around freely, and they’re not going to distinguish between organic and conventionally-grown plants. I suppose you could surround your hives with only organic plant life, but considering bees have actually an average range of five kilometers (and twice that when food is scarce), you’d have to control a lot of land to do it. Plus, you know how bees have those cute furry bodies? Yeah, that fur picks up all sorts of stuff from the air. Not only do you have to worry about non-organic pollen, you also have to contend with every non-organic airborne particle in the area.

Buy local honey. Buy raw honey. Buy honey from someone who raised the bees and (at least kinda sorta) knows where they spend their time. But don’t shell out extra money for organic honey unless you happen to really like that particular honey. Those first two characteristics—”local” and “raw”—should come before organic.

Is Organic Asparagus Worth the Price?

I love asparagus, but even I balk at the astronomical price of organic asparagus. I once saw organic asparagus for sale at my local grocery store for $17.99 per pound!

Luckily, asparagus is one of the cleanest vegetables around. Checking in once again with the USDA (PDP) database, the vast majority of samples test free of residue. Organic might eliminate the small probability of pesticides showing up on your asparagus, but I don’t think it’s worth the price tag. Conventional should be just fine. If you’re really worried, domestic conventional (referring to the United States) is far better than imported conventional.

Sweet Potatoes

Low-carb is cool, but the athletes, lifters, highly active folks among us sometimes need a bit of dietary starch to fuel their efforts. Conventional sweet potatoes are a fine choice. Their leaves sometimes get eaten by bugs, but since that rarely affects the viability of the underground tubers that people actually eat, farmers generally don’t feel the need to protect the leaves with agrochemicals.

However, sweet potatoes do sometimes have a problem with fungal growth after harvesting. To deter this, processors sometimes dunk the tubers in a dicloran bath before packing and shipping. Dicloran (a fungicide not to be confused with the flame retardant known as dichloran) is the only chemical to show up consistently in conventional sweet potatoes. Though dicloran is sometimes listed as a possible carcinogen, the European Food Safety Authority has concluded that “Dicloran has no genotoxic or carcinogenic potential relevant to humans.” Still, if you’re concerned, peel your sweet potatoes.

Farmed Bivalves (Clams, Mussels, Oysters, Scallops)

I’ve mentioned this before in a previous post on farmed seafood, but farmed bivalves are essentially “wild.” They’re not kept in ponds, nor are they given pesticide-rich soy and corn topped off with unsustainable fishmeal. Instead, they hang out attached to their moorings in actual ocean water acting like the filter-feeders they are. For all intents and purposes, the farmed bivalves you eat are identical to wild ones. As such, there would be little point to eating “organic” shellfish.

In 2002, Greenpeace did an exhaustive survey of all the chemicals used in aquaculture to find out whether consumers eating the end product had anything to worry about. While they discovered extensive usage of parasiticides, anesthetics, spawning hormones, oxidants, disinfectants, and herbicides in fish and shrimp farming, there was only one instance of chemical usage in bivalve farming: Northwest U.S. oyster farming sometimes used carbaryl, an organophosphate that inhibits acetylcholine esterase and increases the levels of acetylcholine in the brain (which kills parasites but can actually enhance human brain function, provided you eat or make enough choline).

Long story short, tegular old farmed bivalves are perfectly fine—and I recommend you eat them regularly.

How to Choose Between Organic and Conventional Produce

These are my top suggestions for foods that are fine to buy conventional, but what about when you’re standing in the supermarket and have to make a decision on the fly? Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Check out the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists, which they update annually (though they stay pretty consistent). Whenever possible, get organic for the Dirty Dozen. Otherwise, get what’s available.
  • Prioritize organic for leafy greens and produce with thin, edible skins. Anything you peel will take most of the residue into the compost pile with the food scraps.
  • When shopping at a local farmer’s market, ask the growers about their farming methods. Many small farms can’t afford the organic certification but nevertheless avoid inorganic fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides. You can feel great about eating what they grow.
  • Finally, remember that frozen fruits and vegetables are simply as nutritious as fresh. If you can’t find what you want in the produce section, check the freezer.

That’s what I’ve got, folks. I hope some of you are pleasantly surprised and feel a little more empowered to make educated decisions on whether to buy organic or not. Remember: you have to eat something, and conventional fruits, vegetables, and animals are way better than not consuming fruits, vegetables, and animals at all.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to let me understand if I missed any foods in the comment section!


About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the development of the primal/paleo motion back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimum health, Mark introduced Primal Kitchen area, a real-food business that produces Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly cooking area staples.

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.