The benefits of organic food aren’t always clear. Some websites will purport the benefits of organic foods being as sensational as curing cancer (they likely won’t) while others describe organic foods as a waste of money (they likely aren’t). Knowing the truth can help support your health naturally.

Choosing Organic Foods

The benefits of organic foods come in several facets. Learning which is the most important organic foods can help understand which ones stand to benefit you the most. For example, one of the largest benefits of organic foods is a lack of pesticides and GMO ingredients.

Not all plant-based foods receive the same amount of pesticides during production. Others are mostly covered throughout the entire growth cycle Knowing which types of produce are likelier to be covered in harmful chemicals can help direct your purchasing choices.

This info can help understand the importance of organic foods, which ones might be ok to purchase from conventional growers, and even where to shop.

Purchase from Local Farmers Markets

Buying organic foods that have been locally grown has many benefits compared to nationally-distributed sources. Locally-grown foods are likely to be more nutrient-dense since they aren’t grown in commercial fields that have issues with topsoil nutrient depletion.

Local produce is also likelier to be freshly picked—sometimes within hours of a sale. This type of food contains better flavors, crisper quality, and lower risk of contamination from certain bacteria species.

Locally-grown foods also help reduce our collective carbon footprints since they reduce the need for shipping. Importers of produce from other countries require airplanes, boats, and shipping trucks on both ends. That’s a much higher environmental cost than local foods.

Another benefit of locally-grown produce is the ability to visit the farms directly. Many local growers hold public tours of their facilities to let buyers understand the growing process, how foods are handled, and develop a greater level of confidence in the purchases.

Read Your Labels

One should always check the label for the USDA Certified Organic badge. This lets you feel assured a product has been certified organic and not just “labeled” as such. The USDA Organic seal means that a product has met the necessary standards including the avoidance of synthetic pesticides, fertilizes, GMO ingredients, and other harmful compounds.

The USDA organic seal also means that the product has gone through the official USDA certification process and gained approval. Just like students and researchers have come to trust websites like so too have consumers come to trust the USDA Certified Organic badge to mean “clean” food.

Join or Support Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

CSA’s are groups of farmers, or even single farms, that provide pre-ordered packages of produce to local residents. These programs allow buyers to interact with local ranchers or farmers to practice or apply organic farming techniques. Organic isn’t a given however, so learning more about your local CSA is important.

The downside of CSA programs is the seasonal restrictions of food. If fresh fruit isn’t in season then you won’t get that in your weekly box. There is some research to suggest that eating seasonally (and locally for that matter) help support the body’s natural digestive and detoxification cycles. After all, that’s how we evolved!

Ask Questions!

When purchasing organic food from supermarkets or farmers markets, don’t be fearful to ask if the food was grown organically or not. These types of assertions can help ensure you get the right product and also help keep stores and farmers recognize the demand for organic products. After all, if no one is asking for it they’re not likely to keep it in stock!

Just like students can ask questions through sites like and, so too should you seek answers regarding your organic foods. Eating healthy, organic, and fresh foods are—for many—a choice arrived to by asking questions already. Continuing to ask questions will help ensure you always make decisions based on accurate information!

Shop Seasonal Foods

Shopping seasonally closely aligns with the dietary habits of our ancestors. Scientific research is still on the fence about the impact of such habits, but generally agree there’s no downside of doing such. Many would argue there are health benefits to an evolutionary diet such as this.

This means not buying imported fruits during the winter, or eating winter root vegetables during the summer. Aligning your eating habits to closely mirror food availability from local farmers is a good guide. If it’s not growing locally—then it’s not “seasonal.”

Prioritize What to Purchase Organically

Since organic foods are more expensive than their conventional counterparts, it can be beneficial to prioritize. Going full-organic isn’t always an option given the price. Knowing which products are better to buy organic can help prioritize your shopping list.

According to the Environmental Working Group, the most pertinent foods to purchase organically are as follows:

Higher-Risk Foods

  • cherry tomatoes
  • apples
  • kale
  • grapes
  • cherries
  • spinach
  • cucumbers
  • snap peas
  • potatoes

Lower-Risk Foods

  • pineapple
  • avocado
  • kiwi
  • cabbage
  • sweet potatoes
  • onions
  • papaya
  • eggplant
  • sweet peas
  • cauliflower

Check out the EWG link above for a more complete list. Generally, foods that have large leaf areas, are grown on the ground, are high in sugar, or particularly attractive to pests are high risk. These foods receive more pesticides and herbicides during growth periods.

Knowing Where to Buy

Not everyone has access to local farmer’s markets. Not everyone has access to grocers with organic produce sections either. Finding the right stores to purchase organic products can be tough, but also rewarding.

According to Consumer Reports, the stores with the best overall pricing for organic and natural options is Trader Joe’s. They have 400 locations in as much as 40 states so, in most cases, one can be found within a short drive. Sometimes planning monthly trips to “stock up” on organic products is the best approach.

Other large, nationally-located, retailer with organic products include Costco and Sprouts. Depending on where you live, these companies may or may not be possible to shop with or have all the organic products you seek. Having a good plan goes a long way!


The importance of organic food for health isn’t yet scientifically solidified. There’s still a debate on how to prove how organic food may help benefit the immune system, support natural detoxification pathways, and help to provide a full spectrum of mineral and vitamin nutrients.

As we learn more, ingredients like GMOs and synthetic pesticides become more and more suspect as being negative actors in the context of optimal human health. Knowing how to find organic foods, why they’re important, and which ones to prioritize can help ensure that you and your family get the full benefits that organic foods have to offer!

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