In recent years, organic foods have come into vogue.  For many, there’s no going back to conventionally grown foods that have pesticide residue. We all want to make the best choice for our health, the ecosystem, and our families, but organic fruits and veggies can get pricey.

Even if we can’t afford to buy everything organic or we’re trying to save some money, each year experts focus on the top fruits and veggies that are considered dirtier and more pesticide-ridden than others. You can follow their suggestions and avoid the worst offenders by selecting your organic purchases wisely. The Environmental Working Group believes that standards set by the USDA for pesticide use is overly lax. No matter where you live, it’s therefore recommended that you buy these foods organic if possible:

  1. Apples. Since apple orchards are more vulnerable to insects, pesticides tend to be used more heavily on these tree fruits. Some people will recommend you peel the skin to avoid exposure to pesticide residue, but you are stripping away essential nutrients this way. Instead, I recommend you buy organic apples when you can.
  2. Celery. The USDA has found at least 60 pesticides present on a bushel of conventionally-grown celery. If you can’t find them organic, consider buying another type of vegetable.
  3. Strawberries can attract fungus, so many farmers spray their crops with pesticides. To avoid the pesticide residue that remains on the fruit – over 60 have been reported — it’s best to buy organic.
  4. Peaches are tree fruits like apples that tend to get heavily sprayed. Around 60 varieties of pesticides have been found on these delicious fruits, so plan to go organic.
  5. Spinach is a leafy veggie that gets its fair dose of spraying, and it also retains much of these harmful pesticides. It’s a good idea to buy organic varieties, but you should also watch out that your frozen spinach is organic, as well. Pesticides have been found on them, too.
  6. Nectarines tend to have high pesticide content on their surface – especially imported ones. If you can’t find organic ones, you can substitute organic peaches or plums.
  7. Grapes, especially imported ones, also make the list for essential fruits to buy organic if possible.  Likewise, raisins from conventional grapes, tend to have high
  8. Sweet bell peppers, in all of their beautiful colors, tend to have a high concentration of pesticides. You may have to be diligent about finding organic varieties, as they are not commonplace in every grocery chain.
  9. Potatoes, one of the nation’s favorite foods, has clocked in at around 35 pesticide varieties in USDA testing. Look for the organic labels or substituting sweet potatoes is a nice alternative.
  10. Blueberries, like many other types of berries, have a porous skin that is more susceptible to pesticide contamination.
  11. Lettuce is one of those leafy veggies that you need to be cautious of. Like spinach, it has been tested and lettuce clocks in at around 35 pesticides per bushel.
  12. A current foodie favorite, kale is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. Unfortunately, the conventionally-grown varieties are also packed with pesticides.

Going completely organic isn’t cheap, but sometimes it’s worth the extra money to make safer, more environmentally-friendly choices. Follow this year’s latest guide and shop organic to bypass the most pesticide-laden produce.