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By Diana T. Torres

Thinking about going organic?  Not sure if anything will be pesticide-free or worth the extra cost? According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), certain types of produce are more susceptible to pesticides. At the same time, produce with protective skins are less likely to carry a high amount of pesticide residue.

Both the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and the National Organic Program (NOP) require that ALL organic agricultural products follow national organic standards in production, processing, and certification. The NOP labeling requirements apply to ALL products that contain organic agricultural ingredients, whether raw, fresh or processed.


100 Percent Organic
The percentage of organic ingredients in a product determines labeling. For example, “100 Percent Organic” means that the product was produced and processed using ONLY organic ingredients (excluding water and salt).

95 Percent Organic
If a product is labeled “Organic,” then that product must have been produced and processed using at least 95 percent organic ingredients (excluding water and salt). Any remaining product ingredients must be approved on the National List.

70 Percent Organic
The phrase “made with organic ingredients,” means that the processed product is at least 70 percent organic. This type of product must list up to three organic ingredients or foods that were used in processing.

Less than 70 Percent Organic
Any product produced or processed under 70 percent organic, CANNOT be labeled organic at any time. They can identify those organic ingredients used in processing on the ingredients statement for the product.

Other Labeling Specifications
As long as the statements are truthful, labeling claims such as “no drugs or growth hormones used,” “free range,” or “sustainably harvested,” are under no restrictions.

Buying Organic Produce

The Dirty Dozen
The “Dirty Dozen” are the 12 types of produce most likely to contain pesticides. To avoid chemicals, consider going organic when purchasing these fruits and vegetables:

1.   Apples
2.   Celery
3.   Strawberries
4.   Peaches
5.   Spinach
6.   Nectarines
7.   Grapes
8.   Sweet Bell Peppers
9.   Potatoes
10. Blueberries
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/Collard Greens

Buying Non-Organic Produce

The Magnificent Seven
While most non-organic produce contain some amount of pesticide residue, a few types of produce are reasonably resistant and considered “cleaner.”

1.   Onions
2.   Sweet Corn
3.   Pineapples
4.   Avocados
5.   Asparagus
6.   Sweet Peas
7.   Sweet Mango