Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
28 Nov

Top 9 Most Important Foods to Buy Organic

organic5 1In a perfect world, we’d all be shopping at farmers markets for our produce, tending to bug-eating, orange yolk-producing chickens in our backyards, pooling our resources with other folks to divvy up grass-fed and/or pastured animals, having the farmers who produce our food over for dinner, milking the A2-casein grass-fed teats with our bare hands into BPA-free containers, culling the geese down at the local pond and roasting the dead, foraging for seagull eggs, going mushroom hunting in the forest, ensnaring chubby winter squirrels fattened on acorns and small birds, raising kale-fed crickets for alternative protein sources, and, well, you get the idea. But that isn’t realistic for most people. And heck, who would want to go to all the trouble. What with how easy it is to just swing by the grocery store on the way home from work, especially with a filthy kid in the backseat who’s just out of soccer practice (on a muddy field, no less) and starving.

However, we still want to make the right choices. We want to buy the organic foods that provide the most bang for their buck, that make the most sense. You’ve probably heard of the Dirty Dozen – that annually-updated list of the twelve fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of pesticide residues. Let’s go beyond that, though, because unless you’re a vegan or a fruitarian who lives on produce alone, you’ll want to hear about other foods too. Particularly animal products, which you’re probably eating on a fairly regular basis.

The following list assumes you’re hitting up the regular, everyday grocery store – your Safeways, your Krogers, your Aldis – for most of your food. It’s roughly ordered from most important to least, though after baby food, dairy, and beef, the lines blur. I’d be hard pressed to choose between eggs and leafy greens, particularly given the amount of greens I eat. Luckily, this is just a thought exercise rather than a real dilemma for most. So let’s get to it. If there was one food item that I’d recommend you paying extra for, it would be…

1. Baby foods.

The human infant is a helpless sack of flesh and poop and pee. They’re cute and lovable, sure, but they can’t be relied upon to make good food choices. And because of their ridiculously long development time, babies are far more susceptible to pesticides, especially the endocrine disruptors. An adult can probably get away with a little xenoestrogenic activity from consumed pesticides, since the systems are all but established, but a young baby who’s still developing those systems? Pesticides can disrupt both fetal and childhood development. If your kid has moved on to baby food, make sure it’s organic – whether you make it from scratch or buy it at the store. That goes for the “traditional” pureed goop people give their kids, as well as the foods Primal parents are likely to offer, like liver, egg yolks, and pureed moose thyroid glands (what, you’re not giving your baby moose thyroid?).

2. Full-fat dairy.

Dairy isn’t universally lauded in the Primal community, but I’d guess a plurality of Mark’s Daily Apple readers eat some kind of dairy, whether it’s butter, yogurt, cream, or milk. If for whatever reason you’re unable to procure dairy from grass-fed cows (no, not everyone lives near a Trader Joe’s with affordable and ample stocks of Kerrygold grass-fed butter, sadly), make sure the full-fat dairy you do eat is organic. Organic dairy ensures a few things, assuming the producers follow the required guidelines. First, the latest rules stipulate that organic dairy cows must graze on pasture for the full length of the local grazing season, during which time they must obtain at least 30% of their calories from grazing. Local grazing seasons last at least 120 days, but often much longer, so your organic dairy will be coming from cows who eat at least a decent amount of fresh, actual grass. Second, conventional dairy cows eat conventional, pesticide-laden corn and soy, and those pesticides show up in the full-fat dairy. Most samples of regular butter, for example, contain pesticide residues, while organic butter does not.

3. Beef.

Organic meat cows must meet the same guidelines as organic dairy cows – pasture access during grazing season, 30% of calories from said pasture, etc. – so their meat is going to have at least a portion of the same benefits as full-on grass-fed meat, like improved CLA content, greater micronutrient status, and better flavor (if you like the actual taste of beef, that is). They’re far from fully grass-fed, true, but far better than conventional meat. Although organic meat from grocery stores will likely be raised on soy and corn, the feed will be neither genetically modified nor rich in pesticides. And organic animals aren’t allowed to receive antibiotics, nor are they pumped full of hormones. Most pesticides and contaminants preferentially accumulate in the adipose tissue, too, so especially make sure the fatty meat you eat is organic.

4. Chicken.

You might recall the hullabaloo over arsenic being detected in chicken tissue last year. That was bad, but then we learned that at least the offending food additive – Roxarsone, made by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer – had been voluntarily withdrawn from market, and we breathed a bit easier. New arsenic-based additives are still being used on chicken farms, though, and conventional chickens are still eating Roundup-ready corn and soy that’s been dosed with the organoarsenic pesticide MSMA (because, of course, it’s the only thing that will kill Roundup-resistant weeds). Perhaps the biggest concern, though, is that the fat-soluble pesticides used to produce chicken feed transfer quite well to the chicken tissues that we end up eating.

5. Eggs.

I’ll always say that eggs from pastured chickens – organic or not – are the best, but when comparing normal grocery store eggs to organic grocery store eggs, I’d strongly suggest organic. For one, the fat-soluble pesticides in chicken feed transfer to the egg yolks as well as the chicken tissues. Two, you always want to minimize the chickens’ exposure to pesticides. When your chickens are pastured, they’re getting a lot of their nutrition from bugs, grasses, scraps, and other sources, rather than just from grains. You can afford to skip organic in that case because the portion of feed with pesticides is relatively minor. If you’re dealing with primarily grain-fed poultry, though, going organic is the best way to minimize pesticide exposure.

6. Leafy greens.

Surface area, surface area, surface area. Leafy greens, particularly spinachkalelettuce, and collards, are virtually all surface area. As such, the entirety of their corporeal manifestation is wholly exposed to whatever’s being sprayed or applied on the farm to kill pests – and it’s tough to remove. You can scrub a carrot and wash a cucumber with vigor and they’ll stand it, but if you try to scrub a handful of mixed baby greens, you’ll shred the lot and end up with watery salad. Another mark in favor of going organic with greens is that you eat so many of them. The calorie content is low, but the average Big Ass Salad has hundreds of square inches of exposed leaf. That’s a lot of pesticide exposure, especially if you’re eating your leafy greens (you are, right?) on a regular basis.

7. Berries.

Not only are blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and other berries subjected to some of the heaviest pesticide loads, they’re also among the most antioxidant-rich of all fruits and vegetables. And when you let berries “fend for themselves” without the help of exogenous chemical protectants, they increase their own supply of endogenous chemical protectants – the polyphenols that provide so many of the benefits associated with their consumption. Organic blueberries, for example, are higher in total antioxidants, total phenolics, total anthocyanin, malic acid, and sugars than conventional blueberries. The same goes for organic strawberries, which were more nutritious and antioxidant-rich than conventionally-grown strawberries.

8. Anything on the Dirty Dozen that’s a staple.

This is sort of cheating, I know. But everyone’s different. One family might eat sautéed bell peppers every night, in which case they should probably spring for the organic versions to avoid eating the 3rd most contaminated item on a regular basis. Or another family might chow down on potatoes every day; if so, they should go organic on those. If you’re whipping up mirepoix for stock daily, go for organic celery. Ultimately, in order to determine which foods should be consumed in the organic form you must first establish which foods you eat the most. If this were a list intended for vegetarians, I wouldn’t include meat. If this were meant for a lactose-intolerant crowd, I wouldn’t mention dairy.

9. Apples.

You may not be eating many apples, but if you do, they are officially the dirtiest fruits out there. According to the Dirty Dozen folks, 98% of all conventional samples tested had pesticide residues. There’s also some evidence that organic apples have more polyphenols and greater antioxidant capacity than conventional apples, making organic apples a no-brainer decision.

The list isn’t an ironclad pronouncement that you must follow or risk death, dismemberment, and/or terminal illness, but it is a helpful guideline that I put together based on where I get my calories and the volume of the food I eat. Your personal list might look a little different, like if you eat more chicken than beef or eggs than dairy or berries than greens. Take a look at my reasoning, follow some of the links, and come up with your own list. Is it different? Identical? Let me know in the comment section!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Don’t forget seafood for us coastal people. Most fish are filleted at processing centers which use lots of chemicals.

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Good point, these days I only eat wild caught fish. They are so much healthier than the farmed fish and have much better omega 3 to omega 6 ratio.

      Wayne Atwell wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • Agreed, the toxins from farmed seafood are an environmental disaster and a human health hazard.

        Team Oberg wrote on November 29th, 2012
      • Make sure when you buy wild fish to buy “line caught”. If it isn’t line caught, there’s a good chance it was harvested using methods that are at the very least as environmentally and ecologically damaging as farmed fish, which in many cases, is a wonderful alternative to ocean trawl-caught wild fish. As a matter of fact, many of the freshwater rainbow trout farms in the US are very sustainable and ecologically sound.

        Jonathan Shelly wrote on December 6th, 2012
    • One of the benefits of living on the Big Island of Hawaii is the spearfishing and tasty reef fish. Doesnt get much more primal than hunting your prey in its own environment.

      You KNOW where that food came from.

      Shansen wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • What does everyone think about hot house grown produce? We get a lot of food from Costco and i know most of what we get, if not organic, is from a hot house which i believe doesn’t require as much pesticide use. Definitely try their organic chicken. They used to have grass fed ground beef but now it just organic, grain fed.

      steve bittner wrote on November 29th, 2012
      • Costco, why do you even have a membership?!

        Paddy-O wrote on September 25th, 2014
    • Had some Wa-hoo (Have no idea how to spell it) on vacation in Hilton Head. Fabulous! Definitely recommend it. Tasted kinda like chicken…

      Cindy wrote on November 29th, 2012
    • Really? Like what? First I’ve heard of the processing using chemicals. Generally from what I’ve seen they fillet them fresh as possible and freeze them. There aren’t any chemicals involved are there?

      JohnC wrote on November 29th, 2012
  2. Even at $5.00/dozen the eggs from the local farm where I can actually pull them out from under the hens are hands down the best tasting eggs there is. Sign me up for those as i know EXACTLY where those came from!!

    Chance Bunger wrote on November 28th, 2012
  3. Ugghh, I hate posts like these. Not that it isn’t good, correct information or that it’s not well written but it sends me into a spiral of worry. I have a hard enough time affording “pesticide paleo”! I’m glad you ordered it from most important to least so we can focus our priorities even more. Luckily, I made the baby’s food, we don’t do much dairy, I do buy organic beef from a farmer and we raise our own chickens. The other stuff will have to wait!

    Karyn wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Sounds like you’re doing pretty well!

      Tasha wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Sounds like your way ahead of the game raising chickens and all! Here’s a link to the clean fifteen (not sure if its updated, phones struggling to open browsers). Anyway might help you budget and focus our funds on the wht mark mentioned and not these. Hope this helps. http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/Save-on-Sustainable-Gallery-44032808

      Luke DePron wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • I don’t know about that link. It lists corn and a lot of corn grown in the U.S. is GM and has pesticides inside – the pesticide actually grows within the vegetable. When insects feed on it, they die. When fed to rats and mice, the GMOs have caused tumors, weight gain, digestive isssues, and premature death. No thanks. I buy everything organic when it comes to corn and soy.

        Glen wrote on November 29th, 2012
    • Yeah, I hate these posts for the same reason – the downward spiral of worry. And my reason is because I can rarely get organic vegetables in the winter. (we raise our own beef, get chickens from a different farmer) Yeah yeah, I know … go to a farmers market, but hey Jack I live in snow 6 months of the year, farmers don’t grow veg in the snow. AND I live a 3 hour drive (one way) from a decent size grocery store that stocks a good load of organic veg. My local grocery gets in organic spinach – man, I can’t live on spinach. So I guess I can eat organic when my garden grows and the rest of the year slowly kill myself and my family off with pesticide. :(

      mamab wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • I agree. I tried to limit myself to organic only, but found that it is just too expensive for me. It seemed that just trying to eat was getting to be something that had to be strategized. I”m over 60, so if I made it this far on poison food, it won’t kill me to allow myself to eat some. On the whole I still try to eat organic when it is not too complicated.

        Paula wrote on November 28th, 2012
        • Good point!

          Joseph Bellantuono wrote on December 16th, 2012
      • Don’t worry so much!! If you raise your own beef and get chickens from a farmer, that’s way better than a lot of us can do! Just do the best you can and don’t fret about the rest (:

        Alyssa wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • Grow sprouts!

        Gail wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • Grow microgreens in the house to start. Once you’re addicted, there’s a lot more you can grow that’s compact. Search for tutorials on the web and youtube of people doing it.

        Oly wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • … and don’t even think about GMO’s :(

        Elizabeth wrote on November 29th, 2012
      • You need to get Eliot Coleman’s book on Winter gardening and grow your own with a greenhouse.

        You can buy fancy greenhouses for tons of money, but you can make cheap ones, too.

        Esther C wrote on December 3rd, 2012
      • Squash, pumpkin, potatoes, sweet potatoes in winter. They keep longer. canned organic tomato paste. Plant blackberries on the property. Plant some fruit trees. Grow mushrooms in the basement. : )

        Lisaloo wrote on November 5th, 2014
  4. I’m glad baby food is #1. I think if you’re going to have a baby you should be willing buy (or make!) it organic food.

    Dani wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • It is also more important to give organic food to pregnant women.

      Wayne Atwell wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • Also important for breastfeeding women.

        Julie wrote on November 28th, 2012
  5. I didn’t know squirrels ate small birds!
    Ha!

    gduke wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • That gave me pause!

      Candy wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • Shocking

        Luisa wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Think of a squirrel. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, cutely munching on an acorn in the branches of a big, beautiful oak tree.

      Now:
      > strip the hair off the tail
      > change the color of the body fur to drab brown
      > move the squirrel out of the tree and down into the sewer, and lastly
      > replace the acorn with a piece of garbage

      OK, now whatta you got? That’s right, a RAT. That’s what squirrels are – orange-colored (some of them), bushy-tailed, tree-dwelling RATS.

      Rats will eat anything.

      Jeffrey of Troy wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • Mmm, Rat au Vin.

        Madama Butterfry wrote on November 28th, 2012
  6. The local co-op has always carried organic eggs, but they just started carrying full-on pastured eggs (dark orange yolks!) for less than $4/dozen. I had a little party when that happened.

    primitiverenaissance wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • In a lot of areas (like mine) you can find local people who have eggs for sale. I have found them on bulletin boards at feed stores. One lady charges $1.50 per dozen, another was 75 cents! In both cases you can see the chickens and see how well they are kept.

      Susan wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • I feel blessed: Just up the highway 3 blocks from my house and within a mile are 4 places I can buy pastured eggs. I can almost hear the clucking. Also, we have a customer where I work who is bringing in chickens that peck outside in her barnyard and orchard. also, CSA opportunities within a couple of miles–just picked up my beef CSA today and this beef roamed around about a mile from us. I know this isn’t true for so many, but I just couldn’t believe it when I started to look how many places there were to eat well.

      Janet wrote on December 1st, 2012
  7. In the last month I have been focusing on getting more organic fruits and vegetables, especially for produce on the dirty dozen. I wish organic wasn’t so expensive.

    I wish organic chicken was easier to find. I am rarely able to find it where I live.

    Wayne Atwell wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Do you have a Costco nearby? They have organic chicken and it’s priced at a price point that is actually affordable!!!

      Laura Hamilton wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • Really? Thanks for the tip!!

        Wayne Atwell wrote on November 29th, 2012
      • They don’t have organic chicken at my Costco……I wish. (I’m in Ontario)
        They did recently start carrying organic coconut oil though!

        HM wrote on December 1st, 2012
  8. Gosh. Never bought baby food. I always gave my babies a bit of what I was eating. Mashed up some carrots or bananas with a fork. lol

    Laura wrote on November 28th, 2012
  9. Apples are #1 on the Dirty Dozen?? I’m surprised I haven’t grown a third eye by now.

    Kathleen wrote on November 28th, 2012
  10. What about nuts – should I be buying those organic if they are a staple? I’ve always assumed because they are in a shell they aren’t exposed to pesticides. Do they accumulate chemicals the plant is exposed to, though? Thanks!

    Julia Stuble wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • yep. I’ll mention as well that the walnuts that I used to eat that were conventional always made me feel sick, but the organic walnuts haven’t yet and I’ve eaten plenty of both. Any plant will accumulate chemicals anyways, and even rinsing won’t help because there will be chemicals and probably many types that will absorb through the skins and shells of plant-based foods, same with fats in meats but the chemicals can still reside within the tissue of the meat. Basically anything. Besides, nature wasn’t meant to handle artificial chemicals nor GMOs, nothing in nature can, until nature can fix those problems, GMO probably taking thousands if not tens of thousands of years.

      Parikeltias (Part angel spirit alongside nature's science) wrote on April 10th, 2013
  11. I’m surprised fish isn’t on the list?

    Lindsay Albright wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • I don’t know if fish can be organic. It’s either wild caught or farm raised. Can’t imagine they spray pesticide in the water, since most fish dine on pests. The concern with fish is mercury levels, which I thought was caused mostly from naturally occurring ground minerals seeping into the water supply and contaminants from water vessels on the ocean (wild caught).

      CDH wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • No, most of the mercury contaminants in fish are due to coal-burning power-generation stations. Electricity is clean energy, but electricity generation by coal-fired plant is not. The smoke from burning coal goes into the atmosphere, and mercury comes down with the rain, back into streams, lakes, and rivers, causing all sorts of problems, including health-related problems.

        J Cool wrote on November 28th, 2012
        • Dental mercury, so-called “silver fillings”, is apparently the largest “industrial” use of mercury. It may contaminate our waters more than coal plants given today’s scrubbers and all. I would never allow that stuff to be put in anyone’s mouth in my family.

          D Wisner wrote on December 6th, 2012
  12. QUESTION ON APPLES- if you peel the skin, do you then remove most or all of the pesticides?

    GQ wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • The apples get nourishment from the tree, which gets its nourishment from the ground, so if the ground that the tree is growing in is sprayed with chemicals which are being absorbed, I would think that those chemicals would in turn get right into the apple itself and not just the skin? Just a guess.

      Lindsay wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • I thought most of the pesticides on apples was from spraying? So if you remove the skin most of the pesticides should be removed.

        John wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • Some pesticides are systemic, which means they permeate the entire apple. Just getting rid of the skin might not solve the problem. Better to buy organic if possible.

        That said, have you tried Honey Crisp apples (available organic)? So delicious! I think it’s terrific that we have so many heirloom apple varieties to choose from these days. When I was a kid, all you could get was Red Delicious (pretty but thick-skinned and not delicious at all), Yellow Delicious (ditto), and Granny Smith. As a result, I didn’t like apples at all until many years later.

        Shary wrote on November 29th, 2012
        • yep, exactly, they are. Be careful of organic apples that you buy from a store just as well, b/c they still spray a certain chemical to ward off an insect since it’s the only way for them to get to market. They should by 2014 actually have that practice ended but it’s still an uncertainty.

          Parikeltias (Part angel spirit alongside nature's science) wrote on April 10th, 2013
    • Pesticides are generally sprayed with a fluid and thus most of the pesticides gather in the puddle around the apple stalk. Removing the skin around there is most important.

      Victor Venema wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • it wouldn’t matter, b/c even the fluid’s chemicals will still be absorbed by any pores. Some chemicals may accumulate through other chemicals and some can bond with chemicals within the plant, making it almost impossible to get rid of. Also the reason why nutrients are leeched away because of the chemical combining and then leaving as gases into the air. Taste is an indicator of nutrient levels to tell you the truth, and people mention that they can taste the difference – well, I can too and it’s a huge difference between conventional and organic. Besides, best to grow your own, if you can’t afford or don’t have any way of getting any organic foods xP

        Parikeltias (Part angel spirit alongside nature's science) wrote on April 10th, 2013
    • I’m wondering the same about potatoes, given I never eat the skins, is this a huge concern? I LOVE japanese sweet potatoes but its hard to find those organic!

      Orla wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • Sweet potatoes are completely different and are more hearty than white potatoes. They don’t require the level of pesticides white potatoes do! Win!

        Carrie S. wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • always be wary, regardless. Even if you can’t, you could grow them yourself.

        Parikeltias (Part angel spirit alongside nature's science) wrote on April 10th, 2013
  13. According to the list I will have to buy all organic, cant afford it now but I am planning my own garden next spring.

    shirley wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Trader Joe’s sells organic foods cheaply if you don’t have any farmer’s markets around. I don’t have any farmer’s markets to look forward to sadly enough ;(

      Parikeltias (Part angel spirit alongside nature's science) wrote on April 10th, 2013
  14. You mentioned the “dirty dozen” folks a few times without actually giving them props or a link. The groups that is doing amazing work in this area is called the Environmental Working Group. A link to their food guide can be found at:
    http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/

    Credit given where credit is due!

    Patrick wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Actually, Mark links to the Dirty Dozen on the first mention.

      Agnes wrote on November 28th, 2012
  15. Trying to eat healthy without being maniacal becomes more challenging by the day.

    Allan wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Challenging and expensive. Worth it in taste alone, along with the long-term benefits to health, especially the immune system. Sadly, I know very few American families can afford to eat exclusively organic, even if it is locally available to them. Like clean air and clean water, clean food has become the exception, not the norm.

      Martha wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • I’m about ready to sell up conventional just for a minute. :) The upside to “not clean” food is it’s relative cheapness, abundance, and steady supply. What you don’t see in the last several decades is widespread famine in the developed countries. What meat was available was certainly cleaner, but it’s supply was unsteady and far more unevenly distributed. Meat in the US is available to the masses, even if it is not ideal. In other places meat is a spotty luxury for the poor, especially.

        We’re working towards more ideal eating, so this list is very helpful. But I’m also throwing out there that ye old days were less then perfect on the nutrition front as well.

        Amy wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • So, I buy organic when it’s available, but I often regret the raspberries. The organic version is often tasteless. I don’t know why, but it’s so. This is especially important as I’m trying to get a toddler to eat them. Organic food doesn’t always win on flavor.

        ion freeman wrote on November 28th, 2012
        • That tends to come down to the variety of berry, rather than the fact it’s organic. There was a TV program recently that outed the pretty-looking Elsanta variety strawberry as completely tasteless. The supermarket sells them by the bucket load as they are cheap and look good. Meanwhile, the oddly-shaped, multi-sizes, not quite ripe-looking, more-expensive locally grown variety taste completely amazing. Nothing to do with whether they are organic, or not. It’s a shame more supermarkets don’t list the name of the variety on the punnet.

          Aaron A. Fimister wrote on November 29th, 2012
  16. Oops, my bad, I just saw the link in the article. Good work, thanks!

    Patrick wrote on November 28th, 2012
  17. As a family of 5 on just my income in SoCal, this is most discouraging.

    Troy wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Start growing your own vegetables — you can grow all the tomatoes you can eat in a pot or two depending on the variety. Microgreens grow well in the house.

      The way to grow good vegetables is to start with good soil — which can be expensive to just buy. But if you transition to it you can start composting everything possible now and collecting worms to make your own magic grow soil. I recommend the “Back to Eden” documentary for other ideas about making a good growing medium.

      Oly wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • There is lots of information on growing your own fruits and vegetables for any size garden (down to a 4′ x4′ bed), in pots on your balcony or patio, or as microgreens indoors all winter. Check your local library for books and magazines. You’d be amazed at what you can do even with little to no garden space.

        Kate wrote on November 30th, 2012
  18. I am very very glad that I live in London, with a plethora of great butchers, ethnic shops, organic grocers and what not. Even the big players like Sainsbury’s have a great organic range with more and more products coming on stream every month. I have only fed our daughter organic milk where we can manage it, mostly organic foods too…

    I am in week 4 of primal living and although the depths of winter is upon us, I am feeling none of the gloom I normally feel as the days get shorter! Here’s to two fingers up at Conventional Wisdom!

    STeve wrote on November 28th, 2012
  19. especially as I’m re-evaluating my grocery budget, I really appeciate this post. Over the holiday I dropped the $8/lb grass fed butter and opted for the $5 organic butter, and even a couple of pounds of the $3 dairy gold. Today I’ll be heading into Trader Joes to see about this affordable Kerrygold business. I’ve avoided TJ’s for years, except for the occasional bathroom pit stop, in favor of my local, farmer direct cooperative, but it seems the time has come. Thanks for the tips!

    yoolieboolie wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • I’m not sure where you live, but if you can acquire Clover brand or Straus brand, the cows are almost totally grass fed in Marin and Sonoma counties where the grass stays green for a good long time during the year. They’re fed organic feed in the milking parlour, and Straus has invested in a methane digester, so the milking parlour is powered by the cows’ waste! :) Less than $6/lb.

      Guitar_grrrl wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • The Straus brand organic yogurt is delicious! Good to learn that it’s grass-fed. Didn’t know that.

        Christina wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • Wholefoods in CT has Kerry Gold butter (from grass fed cows) at $6.00 a pound. Best price I can find. I buy in bulk and 4 lbs will last my wife and I about a six weeks… we love our butter!!

        Brian wrote on November 29th, 2012
        • Not sure about CT but Sams Club in Louisiana has it. May be in the deli section in tubs. Have heard you can find it at Costco too.

          Alicia wrote on January 12th, 2013
    • Wow…even regular nonorganic non grass fed butter here is $4/lb. I have never seen organic in our local small town store.

      Tamika wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • If you have a Costco nearby, I have found the Kerrygold butter there. Box of 3 8oz bars for under 11.00. They only have the salted variety though.

      Kelly wrote on November 29th, 2012
  20. My parents have a local farmer that sells pastured eggs and they are amazing. They drop off 2 dozen eggs to my house every couple of weeks. Plus I get a discount since I recycle the egg cartons.

    James wrote on November 28th, 2012
  21. Great post. Seems like its pretty much common sense…or at least should be. It’s shocking how little people know about food even with all of the info out there…but maybe that’s the problem — too much random misguided info.

    Lindsay wrote on November 28th, 2012
  22. So basically, everything I eat then? :-)

    Amy wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Yup.

      Christina wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • From another Amy – LOL – yes, this post could be totally summarized as: get everything you eat as organic.

      Amy wrote on November 28th, 2012
  23. I finally found a local organic chicken guy! All I had to do was look on EatWild.com Turns out he’s only 10 minutes away. :)

    Mark Cruden wrote on November 28th, 2012
  24. I used to be allergic to apples – until I started buying (and eating) only organic ones. No wonder – it was probably never the apples, but rather the pesticides….

    Lisa wrote on November 28th, 2012
  25. I wish I could afford all this! Ha! It’s hard to find decent eggs where I live in winter… in the other months my Aunt has chickens! And they peck around her property all day – best damn eggs I’ve EVER had.

    I’m also surprise no type of seafood was on this list, but I’m happy Baby Food is numero uno.

    Kaz wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Stick with wild seafood and I think you’re OK.

      Mark Cruden wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • In the northern reaches of the country, local egg production drops to nothing this time of year because of the length of the day. We’re happy to have moved South. :)

      Amy wrote on November 28th, 2012
  26. I use all organic and grass fed as I have become allergic to most pesticides used! In my younger years I was exposed to a lot of different ones as I am the daughter to a crop duster and I flagged while he sprayed. Years later I developed an intolerance to a lot of it so to be safe, I just stay away from anything that’s got the potential of having pesticide on it.My grocery bill is HUGE! But I manage by using fillers such as potatoes and quinoa. All of the meats in the house are purchased at the farmers market where I live and all are grass fed. Its not cheap but for the safety of me and my family its well worth it. Plus the farmers at the market now know me and give me great deals as they know I really have no other options. I get a lot of fruits and veggies that arent pretty but after they are cut up you dont know and they taste awesome!
    Thank you for this site and all of the valuable information that you give!
    Seante

    Seante Wilson wrote on November 28th, 2012
  27. I buy organic everything when available. The one problem I have is that my husband is lactose intolerant. Is it possible to buy organic lactose-free milk? I haven’t found such a thing in any store.

    Marsha Murphy wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Many people who are lactose intolerant can handle raw milk.

      Susan wrote on November 29th, 2012
    • Horizon brand has a 2% lactose free organic milk.

      Kiki wrote on November 29th, 2012
      • (I hit the wrong button) I have more info for you. I only buy organic milk and I’m not a fan of ultra pasteurized milk (Horizon brand is ultra pasteurized). I buy drops from a Canadian company and put them in my son’s milk. They are called Lacteeze from Gelda Scientific. I call and give them my credit card and order a one year supply (for my son it’s 4 of the 15.5 ml bottles). It’s usually around $50-$60. We put about 18 drops per gallon and let it sit for at least 24 hours. You can add more or less depending on your tolerance. Phone # 888-673-9320 / glenda.com
        Hope this helps.

        Kiki wrote on November 29th, 2012
  28. You guys think it would be possible to complain a little bit more?

    Mason wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Not having had to visit a doctor in 5 years has more or less cancelled out the increased food costs in terms of money. In terms of quality and enjoyment of life there is simply no comparison between the healthy primal me and the constantly sick and unfit person I used to be. Primal rocks.

      patrick wrote on November 28th, 2012
  29. Costco just started carrying Kerrygold grass-fed butter at least here in Kansas City, but I suppose they do it in other cities too.

    You won’t find it with the regular butter, it’s hidden in the cheese aisle.

    Juan Gomez wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • We have that here in Portland Costco as well! You can’t beat three 8 oz blocks for $7

      Fritzy wrote on November 29th, 2012
    • So glad you left this comment! I found it in the butter/dairy section for $7 for 1.5 lbs! Two pounds of Kerrygold cheese for $13 also. I still bought my regular local raw cheddar brick for $14 for two pounds, but together they are wonderful. My little boys are cheese hounds and I am happy to offer them products I am comfortable with.

      Thanks again for the tip!

      yoolieboolie wrote on November 29th, 2012
  30. This makes me a little depressed. I live on the Mediterranean and all I’ve got down is the dairy part, and maybe some locally grown fruits which I hope but doubt are grown sans pesticides. Everything else is near impossible to find around here. Moving in less than year though, so maybe I’ll have better luck then.

    Wafaa wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • If you live on the Mediterranean, aren’t there lots of local farmers? Find them, talk to them, express your concerns etc. Buying local is usually a step above the “organic” at the grocery stores. Have you considered just buying locally what is in season? Perhaps I am wrong as I thought that there is abundant agriculture along the Mediterranean.

      Laurie wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • I agree that buying from a local farmer is wonderful. We usually ask whether they have sprayed chemicals. Some say no (the best answer.) Others say yes and others say only “when necessary.” So we ask which of the foods available did not need to be sprayed. It works well, is cheaper than grocery store organic and fresher too. We are beginning to ask whether GMO varieties are used. We are not looking forward to organic grocery store food this coming winter either.

      Jean wrote on November 30th, 2012
  31. I just had my Tall Grass Farms grass-fed sirloin, cooked to absolute PERFECTION in Mike Eades’ Sous Vide Demi. (My beautiful BLUE “baby” version of their Sous Vide machine: although Mike calls it a “teenage-version” because, he wrote, it’s only 17% smaller than the Sous Vide Supreme. No matter, it’s an adorable baby to me!). I’m SUCH a happy carnivore right now… Oh, right, get to my point… (Oh, that steak was superb! Yum.)

    I was interested to taste a noticeable difference between U.S. Wellness Meats and Tall Grass Farms (for both the sirloins and the burger meat). And, amazingly, I used to like the Costco “organic” chopped beef — but now? eeewwww. It just tastes… off! Even doctored with (low carb) ketchup and grated locatelli cheese (sheeps-milk romano — also big YUM!) the Costco stuff just wont’ do anymore. (And don’t even bring up supermarket beef!)

    Yes, I DO have to cut financial corners elsewhere to afford the good grass-fed stuff; but I order 20-25 pounds of both the sirloin and chopped, and keep it in my chest freezer, pulling it out and throwing it into the Sous Vide machine as needed.

    (Oh Juan? Costco used to only carry Kerrygold around St Pat’s day — and I used to whine and send requests to them to carry it year-round. Fingers crossed they will keep it in stock! When they have it, I buy a lot; cut the larger bars into two regular-sized bars (that fit my butter dishes), wrap in aluminum foil and freeze. Lasts just fine!)

    Elenor wrote on November 28th, 2012
  32. I teach Biology and we are studying nutrition and our first issue was looking at why the food we eat is so cheap. Organic is expensive because our country has industrialized the conventional food and helps pay for it to be cheap. All food would be more costly if it were produced in healthy organic ways. 7 billion mouths to feed.. rough future ahead to be sure.. Vote with dollars though.. every dollar spent buying organic and from local sources is a vote for those things to be more available!

    Paul wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Look into farm subsidies.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on November 28th, 2012
      • Yep, farm subsidies. So much of our food seems cheap because you’ve already paid for part of it before you ever step foot in the grocery store.

        Ashley wrote on November 28th, 2012
        • I wrote to my house representative recently. This guy is liberal and we do not live in a farm community. I suggested that we are subsidizing the wrong foods. Too much subsidy goes to corn and soy and fuels the obesity epidemic. I was expecting a favorable reply. Instead I got a lot of gobbledegook which was hard to decipher and I can usually understand the written word quite well. My point is that something is wrong when even the liberals are afraid to stand and be counted when it comes to the farm bill, GMO, pesticide usage and similar topics.

          Jean wrote on November 30th, 2012
  33. I’m one of those people that lives in a town without a Trader Joes (sadly) and it is hard to find certain things, but I make it work when I go into the big city ;).
    Question about eggs: we eat A LOT of them and try to get them from our local farm (where we get beef and pork), but the hens didn’t lay many eggs and we couldn’t get enough for even 2 days. I’ve been buying Born Free free range certified humane eggs. What does certified humane even mean? Or what should I be looking for in the grocery store?
    Thanks!

    Hannah wrote on November 28th, 2012
  34. Costco is carrying Omega 3 organic brown eggs now for $6.99 for two dozen. It’s hard to get a better deal anywhere. I like to buy them local and fresh for straight up eating (frying, etc.), but I buy the Costco eggs for ingredients or hard boiling.

    Trader Joes has frozen grass fed sirloin steaks which are wonderful. They run about $10.99 a pound, which is generally less than organic. I’ve also found that their ribeye that comes sealed in plastic has a grass fed taste to it, even though it’s only $7.99 a pound.

    Cory wrote on November 28th, 2012
  35. As a grass-based farmer, your comments regarding the cost and availability of wholesome foods is very disheartening to me. Every week I see people in their trendy and expensive gym clothes who espouse to “eat clean”, “eat primal” and “paleo”. That $50 sweatshirt you’re wearing is TEN dozen eggs from my organically raised pastured hens, yet they repeatedly stick up their noses at the eggs because they aren’t “Certified” or are too expensive. My advice is get to know your farmer and you CAN eat clean, including organic meats, dairy and produce for a lot less than one would expect.

    Sandra Kay Miller wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • +1

      It’s all about priorities. I know for sure there are some of us who have to cut corners EVERYWHERE just to be able to get by, but I think the vast majority of us could afford better quality food with a little extra planning and less money for entertainment, clothing, and other things.

      Alyssa wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • +10000!!!!

      Krys wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • To begin my rant, I will say the added cost is worth it.

      On the other hand, not all of us bought that $50 sweatshirt new. Some of us bought that $50 sweatshirt at thrifty store for $2, are raising 3 kids, and already have grocery budgets hovering at 30% of take home pay with conventional groceries. And mortgages and all the rest of it.

      I don’t begrudge what’s charged- the need to make a profit and given the care put into the food produced, I’m surprised it doesn’t cost more. But not every customer who walks on by does so because of a misguided set of priorities.

      Amy wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • well ten dozen eggs eventually run out and you’ll have to buy 10 dozen more. you only need to buy 1 sweatshirt.

      jake wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Umm OK, what do you suggest to my friend who has been searching for enough work for a year and a half and can barely pay her rent?

      Not everyone who sees wholesome food as unaffordable is simply making different choices…

      Jerry wrote on November 29th, 2012
    • As a friend of mine always says: you spend so much money on things you dont need, you can spend some money on good food instead.

      Vollzeitvater wrote on December 3rd, 2012
  36. Thank you for this list breakdown. I live in Utah, so grass fed meat and dairy are plentiful, which I am forever grateful. Sorta makes me never want to move back to FL, which I am sure has nothing of this sort, besides some fruit and grass fed beef. My dogs are raw and I was curious if anyone fed their dogs grass fed beef or organic chicken? I cut back on some things that weren’t as important as health for this lifestyle, I just don’t know if there is anywhere else that I could cut back to fed them organic and grass fed.

    Gabbagabba wrote on November 28th, 2012
  37. Oh and we finally get a Trader Joes here on Friday! Yay! I have never been but I definitely want to go now, for the KerryGold dairy products!

    Gabbagabba wrote on November 28th, 2012
    • Trader Joe’s isn’t the only place that carries KerryGold and other quality products. Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, Sprouts, and Costco have good selections. Some of the large grocery chains now have upscale stores that carry a better product line than their supermarkets. You just need to shop around a little to find out who’s got what.

      Single-stop shopping is a thing of the past if you want to get the best quality for the best price. We routinely shop at four different stores, depending on what we’re buying.

      Shary wrote on November 29th, 2012
      • I took the leap in TJ the other day and bought a chunk of KerryGold. It was $3. In the Harris Teeter the same chunk is $6. You can also get a nice big organic apple in TJs for .79. It’s just me, but I often have to food shop at 4-5 stores and the farmer’s market. The trick is to have an idea what you need, incorporate the stores into other trips for work and save a little gasoline.

        Keith wrote on December 7th, 2012
  38. Mark,

    How does this line up with an earlier post of yours where you expressed a preference for domestic non-organic over imported organic.

    Is it better for me to buy the organic bell peppers from Holland, or the domestic ones from a nearby state?

    CJW wrote on November 28th, 2012
  39. I agree with STeve of London, I live in Kent and all our main supermarkets have an excellent and affordable organic range plus they often sell products from small producers local to the particular store, so a bit of farmers market in there too. I think as well it does come down to priority,, that £10 spent on makeup could have bought a week’s worth of organic veg.

    Tracy wrote on November 28th, 2012
  40. Just a few thoughts for those if you that do have gardens / local organic seasonal foods. Some ways to extend your stock for those long winter months. Lactofermentation- sauerkraut , kimchi … Beets, carrots and other root veggies high in mineral content. Also realize that lactofermentation actually increases vitamin content as well as being a digestive aid. Fruits also can be made into yummy preserves sans the sugar or any unpaleo additions. There are many sources of info on this sort of preservation. I’m not sure if I am allowed to recommend the ones that have helped me best.

    Laurie wrote on November 28th, 2012

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