Is Organic Worth It? | The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans LLC


About two years ago I started doing some research on the foods that I was buying and putting into my and my family’s bodies. It was very eye opening but also rather discouraging because I found that most of the processed foods in the grocery store are filled with junk. I kept coming back to the question: is organic worth it? At that point I decided to give it a try and so I began purging our pantry and refrigerator/freezer, and changing over to buying as much organic and fresh foods as I could.

My son has an allergy to dairy and eggs, and while I’m very careful about scanning labels for those items, I don’t really pay much attention to the rest of ingredients. When I started reading the labels for “other” things is when it got a bit scary and really eye-opening. And when I finally took into account the foods that my husband and I were eating…yeah, it wasn’t pretty.

Have you ever walked into the grocery store and picked up a box of cookies or crackers and read the label? How about looking at the label of your favorite bread or cereal? What about reading the label of those “low fat” diet foods? It’s SHOCKING!

It wasn’t long before I realized there was added sugar (or sugar-like substances), artificial “flavors and colors”, and all manner of “extras” in the food that really wasn’t doing anything but making the food more appealing to kids (and grown kids) and making us unhealthy in the process. The more I read about processed foods, the less I wanted to purchase and consume them.  It was about this time I started learning more about organic foods. The more I read about organic verses non-organic foods, the more I wanted to start clearing out the non-organic foods (as much as possible). Today, you can pull up any number of websites and studies that argue how organic foods are so much better for us, but there are an equal amount of articles and websites saying buying organic is just a waste of money. Personally, I choose to believe the more organic and less “yuck” I put into my body, the healthier I will be.

Below are some guidelines for produce shopping. There are definitely some you want to make a priority for buying organic verses conventional, if possible, based on the amounts of pesticides found on/in the produce.

Preferably Organic – The Dirty Dozen

Most Commonly Contaminated*

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Lettuce
  • Kale/Collard Greens

If Budget Allows, Buy Organic

  • Green Beans
  • Summer Squash
  • Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Raspberries
  • Grapes – Domestic
  • Plums
  • Oranges
  • Cauliflower
  • Tangerines
  • Bananas
  • Winter Squash
  • Cranberries

Least Commonly Contaminated (Your Call)

  • Onions
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocado
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet Potato
  • Grapefruit
  • Mushrooms

*Listed in order of pesticide load
Source: Environmental Working Group. Go to for updates. Updated June 2011.

From the Mayo Clinic Website:

If a food bears a USDA Organic label, it means it’s produced and processed according to the USDA standards. The seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it.

Products certified 95 percent or more organic may display this USDA seal.
Products that are completely organic — such as fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods — are labeled 100 percent organic and can carry the USDA seal.

Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can use the USDA organic seal plus the following wording, depending on the number of organic ingredients:

100 percent organic. To use this phrase, products must be either completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.
Organic. Products must be at least 95 percent organic to use this term.

The article continues to say this in regards to the question “Is Organic More Nutritious?”:

Probably not, (but I don’t buy this answer because I have been eating organic and am much healthier since I have been doing so) but the answer isn’t yet clear. A recent study examined the past 50 years’ worth of scientific articles about the nutrient content of organic and conventional foods. The researchers concluded that organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs are not significantly different in their nutrient content.

Is organic worth it?

I believe, based on my two years of experience, buying and eating organic foods is much better for the my health and the health of my family. Is organic worth it? Yes, buying organic is more costly than conventional foods but when I break down costs it’s really not that significant. Organic meat seems to be the biggest difference in both cost and taste, from our experience. The organic meats that I buy are so much better tasting that my husband has told me numerous times to NOT cut the grocery budget by buying cheaper meats. I have a growing pre-teen boy in my household, which makes me want to buy the best quality foods that I can. I have found that I buy a WHOLE LOT LESS JUNK FOODS and a WHOLE LOT MORE FRESH foods when I am buying organic and that keeps me and my family healthier. We don’t eat much processed food now, because we eat a lot of single ingredient foods, like fruit and veggies or organic meats. The processed foods we do eat have a very limited number of ingredient and are typically organic. Since we are eating less processed and junk foods I spend less money on that kind of thing which is cutting down on my grocery budget. (That doesn’t mean that occasionally I don’t splurge on Oreos or Fruit Gummies for my son….er me and my husband but for the most part our groceries are not processed and/or organic.)

Over the past two years since I have cut processed and started buying organic both my husband and I have noticed a big difference in the way we feel, and we have both lost weight. It’s also helping my eleven year old son realize that there is a difference in processed vs. “real” foods and how they help your body work. As he was going through his recent American Karate Black Belt testing, he was adamant about eating “healthy, whole, organic” foods! It made this momma proud on so many levels! Since we have been eating better quality foods we have cut down on expenses in other areas, like prescription medications and doctor’s visits. My son is learning that if he wants something sweet he can get a piece of fruit or add some honey to iced tea, instead of sugar.

I know that a lot of people say they can’t afford to buy organic and non-processed foods, but the reality is our family has changed our whole diet based on cutting out most of the processed and non-organic foods and we haven’t changed the dollar amount of our grocery budget much because we have cut out so much of the high-priced junky foods we used to buy. We don’t buy “diet” foods like we used to either, but stick to the perimeter of the grocery store and occasionally hit the inner aisles for things to add to a meal, or to make something special.

Do you buy organic or are you a conventional grocery shopper? When shopping at the grocery store do you read labels or do you just buy what you’ve always bought? I would love to hear from you!!

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