Ask the Readers: When Do You Use Organic?

By Ashley Jacobs on 23 July 2013 (Updated 30 July 2013) 64 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to DeeDee, Louly, and Anna for winning this week's contest!

One way to reduce the harm done to our environment — and our bodies — is by going organic when we can. However, sometimes the cost of organic groceries and products (not to mention the uncertainty when it comes to labeling), can cause us to choose a non-organic alternative.

When do you use organic? Is there anything that you always — or never — buy organic? Do you grow or produce any organic goodies yourself?

Tell us about when you use organic and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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    Giveaway Rules:

    • Contest ends Monday, July 29th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after July 29th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
    • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
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Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Christie

I use organic when it is cost effective. If something organic is double the price of the regular item, and would blow my budget for feeding my family, I have to go with what I can afford. I would rather eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies that are not organic than one or two things that are and have my family fill up on things that are cheaper, but not good for you!

Guest's picture
Monica

I'll buy organic fruit but I typically don't search out "only organic" foods. I know its typically healther and not too much more expensive

Guest's picture
Oldman

Living in Southwest Florida, I found a local organic farmer near my home. I purchase all my produce from his small, unairconditioned store. It forces me to use what produce is in season rather than what is imported from other countries or up north.

Guest's picture
Jess

My b.f. and I often buy a gallon of the organic milk that comes in a cardboard carton. It stays fresh a lot longer than the regular milk in a plastic jug, and it keeps us from buying a quart or half-gallon of the regular stuff, which is more expensive by the ounce. (When we buy a gallon of regular milk, we don't usually use it all before its expiration date. The expiration date is a lot further out on the stuff in the carton.)

Guest's picture

I will go with the extra expense of organic when it has a skin that is eaten and I'm purchasing from the grocery store. Strawberries are my top pick for organic!

We usually shop at the local farmer's market and don't worry so much about organic verses non-organic. This is because we know where the produce is coming from and get to meet the farmers.

Guest's picture
Mary Happymommy

I buy organic carrots.

Guest's picture

Haha. Scrolling through the replies, I thought this said, "I buy organic cigarettes."

Guest's picture
Steph

I try to always buy organic if I have the money to do so. I have also tried growing my own vegetables and fruits, however I have not had a lot of luck in that department due to my brown thumb. The more I read about the affects of the chemicals found in our foods, the more I worry about what I am putting in my family's bodies.

Guest's picture
Christine

Strawberries. They taste better too!

Guest's picture

I can honestly say that I don't purchase organic. I do sometimes when it is the only thing available or if the other produce is looking nasty. Many of the organic farms are right next to the commercial farms or non-organic farms. They get run-off from those farms and end up not being organic at all. If people knew more about how the commercial farms actually worked, they probably would stop buying so much organic.

Guest's picture
Kristine

We grow our own organic vegetables. I don't have any situations where I "Always" use organic, but if the prices are similar, I will choose organic.

Guest's picture
Nancy

If I had unlimited budget, I would buy organic for all food. But as a compromise, I subscribe to CSA and receive a box of organic fruits and vegetables delivered to my door every other week. I also follow the recommendations of The Environmental Working Group (EWG) "Shoppers Guide to Pesticides" report. The group publishes a "dirty dozen" list of produce that have the highest level of pesticides. Based on that list, I buy organic apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and peaches. I buy "non-organic" fruits and veggies on the group's "clean fifteen" list, which includes cabbage, corn, pineapple, grapefruit, avocados. I can't afford free range non organic eggs, so I buy eggs from Trader Joes as a humane alternative. And i simply can't afford the high prices of grass fed organic meat, unfortunately. I know the recommendation is to offset the high cost by using smaller amounts, but I already stretch meat as far as it can go.

Guest's picture
Elena

I usually can't afford organic, but I try to buy organic apples and strawberries

Guest's picture
Amber

I always price check between the organic and conventional. If the organic is within a dollar of the conventional, I buy the organic. I also try to buy my lettuce organic, as well as the dirty dozen.

Guest's picture
FJL

It may be easier to answer 'When don't I use organic?' I'm a big believer in non-GMO, sustainable foods, and an anti-Monsanto agenda. I eat 100% organic Mon-Fri and cheat a little on weekends. Making 2 salads every other day for work is easy. Organic eggs, oatmeal, sprouted breads, fruits for the mornings. Grass fed beefs for protein are easy to find. Truly other than onions and avocados, I try to buy the rest of my produce organically, and learning the higher alkaline foods is important too.

Guest's picture
Tyler

I buy organic if the price drives me to it. In other words, I hardly ever buy organic!

Guest's picture
Eric Wilborn

We stick to organic soy milk but also upgrade to organic when the cost to upgrade is minimal.

Guest's picture
Monica M.

I try to buy organic from the Dirty Dozen list put out by the EWG. I do prefer to buy local over organic whenever possible (including milk), from a smaller farm that I can ask specific questions about the growing conditions and pesticides use. I also have been paying attention to the country of origin. If it's organic but shipped from thousands of miles away versus a conventional produce that's from just a few states away...I chose the conventional. I don't buy organic processed food or meats because of my budget, but I have been trying my best to stay away from certain ingredients like HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), caramel coloring, and "natural" flavors. Though I eat as many whole foods as possible and limit anything processed, I do have a strict food budget, so that limits how much organic I can reasonably afford.

Guest's picture
KelR1

I only buy organically if it's cheaper than its conventional equivalent. I just make sure to rinse all produce very well before eating.

Guest's picture
Mel

Milk and the dirty dozen list.

Guest's picture

I'd be fine if we never really purchased organic. If it were exactly the same price as the alternative, I would buy it... But, this is almost never the case.

I just try to wash our fruits and veggies to the best extent I can and move on.

Guest's picture
Paula

I buy organic fruits/veggies that DON'T have peels. Berries and spinach, for example, I buy organic. But I buy conventional bananas, since the fruit itself is protected by a peel.

Guest's picture
Shannon

I don't buy organic groceries - I am underemployed and organic is completely out of my price range. But I do have an organic vegetable garden full of tomatoes, green beans, jalapenos, corn, squash, cucumber and cantaloupe! Organic, non-gmo seeds are not that expensive and organic pest control & fertilizing is not that hard. Everyone should give it a try!

Guest's picture
Matt

Currently the only time I use organic is when organic fruit is on sale and reasonable in my area (about $1.50/lb for apples, oranges and the like) or on items amazon has good deals for subscribe and save on for things like quinoa, coconut oil, split peas, etc.

My garden vegetables are also organic, so whenever my zucchini and pepper plants produce something edible I'm also using organic.

Guest's picture

i eat from an organic garden and buy organic when it is on the biggest "offenders" list

Guest's picture
Betty D.

I never buy organic. I think it's too much money. For fruits and vegetables, i just wash off with white vinegar and water.

Guest's picture
Diane

Not as often as I'd like, due to the cost. I try to go organic with fruits & veggies that absorb pesticides the most... the dirty dozen. And I grow tomatoes in the summer. Someday I'd like to have a larger garden where we grow more of our own produce.

Guest's picture
Gina

I buy organic fruits and veggies.

Guest's picture

I use organic always for certain items. I generally follow the dirty dozen's list of things to buy organic and then I save on non-organic for items like oranges, melons, etc. I am on a tight budget - but the health concerns of consuming all those chemicals are too big for me to ignore.

Guest's picture
Catherine

I use organic to avoid the dirty dozen.

Guest's picture
Suzanne In VA

eggs, milk, butter always. try to with meat and veggies but only probably 30% of the time. but that's it

Guest's picture
Ben

I never use organic and my wallet thanks me for it.

Guest's picture
Lisa

I use organics when it's something that I've grown or foraged from a wild area.

Guest's picture
Thrifty Writer

I usually try to buy tomatoes and apples organic, and sometimes, berries (if I find a much larger container of "conventional" blueberries, I'll buy those and soak them). The produce I eat most regularly are tomatoes, cucumbers, apples, berries and avocados. Cukes and avocados I peel, so I try to go organic with the stuff that I eat without peeling.

Guest's picture

Milk and meat

Guest's picture
Shannon

I use organic on food more likely to soak up the pesticides

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kristina

We buy mostly organic. Definitely meats.

Guest's picture
Melissa Hansson

I try to buy organic when it's not too expensive, but it's not my priority like price is.

Guest's picture
DeeDee

I purchase organic carrots and apples most of the time. I try to buy organic on the "dirty dozen" if the price isn't too high.

Guest's picture
Mary

I don't buy organic at all.
There is not enough scientific evidence to show that organic has more nutritional value or is any safer than non organic products. The best way to spend your money is to buy whole foods and not processed convenience foods.

Guest's picture
Elizabeth V

we buy pretty much everything we can organic, non-GMO, pastured, BPA-free; the added cost is offset by eating out much less than we used to

we will occasionally buy non-organic from the Clean Fifteen list, if organic is unavailable, but even with the things on the list, we like to vote with our wallets, and support farmers and suppliers who are keeping it real and clean!

Guest's picture

I often use organic when it comes to my fruits, like apples or strawberries!

Guest's picture
Monique

I like to garden organically, but I just have a container garden. Also, I try to buy organic when I get fruits and vegetables that are thin-skinned or that I will eat the skin. Also, I like to buy organic dairy, though luckily I don't use a lot of dairy products. It's a balance and it's not always easy to do, especially when you eat out.

Guest's picture
Lisa

At our little grocery store there are certain vegetables (green beans, asparagus, squashes etc.) that are ONLY available at as organic and locally grown. So it's easy to make the decision there.

Guest's picture
Liisa

Most of the time. I have health issues and have been told to do exclusively organic, especially meat. The main time I don't is when we eat out, which is usually once a month or so, or on vacation. Or if something isn't available organically grown. My father-in-law always says "you pay now or you pay later" in regard to diet -- we would rather spend a little more and invest in good health for the long run!

Guest's picture
hannah

I do my best to buy organic grapes, berries and apples. But right now we can't afford double prices, so I've only been buying organic when they're on sale or pretty close to conventional.
I prefer organic lettuce, but lately it seems attacked by bugs or something, and is not fit to purchase - pushing me back to conventional. If packaged lettuce/greens are on sale, I always buy organic of that - usually organic spinach.
And potatoes. I always buy organic potatoes, they aren't that expensive and we only need the small bags anyway.
Bananas, I usually buy organic bananas as they are cheap anyway.
I grow basil, rosemary and oregano myself. Fresh herbs are the best! And so easy to grow, just need a little spot in the window and they flourish. Basil especially grows like a weed and you can put it in anything.

Guest's picture
Lynda

to be honest, when it is budget friendly

Guest's picture

Hey, if they're on sale or something, great, but I just can't afford to be exclusively organic. In the past, we've had a little container garden for tomatoes and such, and that was cool.

Guest's picture
Mylene

I juice pretty often so buying fruit and vegetables organic is not very cost effective. Though I try to buy them on sale. My local grocery store generally puts produce on sale on certain days. On those days I get up early to buy them or ask my fiance to stop by and check.

Guest's picture
Dayla

When I was pregnant, we purchased as much organic food as we could afford, mostly dairy products. Now that our son is here and eating solids, I make his food (purees) with organic produce, but it's cheap when 1 zucchini makes 5 or 6 servings for him! In addition to his food, we ALWAYS buy organic, cage free eggs more for how chickens are handled than any other reason. Also, we ALWAYS buy organic ground beef, but only 1-2lbs/month. We'd rather pay more and eat it less.

Guest's picture

I buy organic produce as much as possible. I follow the dirty dozen list when money is tight and when I'm juicing.

Guest's picture
Guest

I try to buy organic fruits and vegetables that don't have a thick skin that is peeled off. Items like peaches and other foods with thin skins that you normally eat are safest as organic.

Guest's picture
Christina

I buy organic as much as possible. The dirty dozen whenever possible, all dairy unless I can buy from a local farmer who I talk to. Meat I will choose humanely raised over organic. Though I do admit, when there is a large price difference sometimes going for nonorganic, this is usually the packaged foods.

Guest's picture
Rebecca B. A. R.

I try to buy organic (and fair trade) products whenever I can afford it.

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Laura Jacobsonl

I use organic when it comes to my fruits and vegetables whenever I can.

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Tabathia B

When I can find fruits and veggies for the comparable prices of non-organic foods or find them on sale then I will purchase organic

Guest's picture
SerenityNow

I signed up for a CSA share with a local farm, which supplies me with local and organic produce every week. I eat a lot of veggies, so I'm most adamant about buying organic versions instead of conventional.

Guest's picture
Alissa A

I rarely use organic. I need to do a better job!

Guest's picture
KF

I try to buy organic with the "dirtiest" fruits and veggies. There are tons of lists online that list the fruits that contain the most chemicals. Beyond that I try to save money.

Guest's picture

I buy the majority of our fruits and vegetables organic, and we also grow a garden. We've moved to grass fed meat that is ideally, but not always, organic.

Guest's picture
Brenda Faulkner

Vegetables and fruits - always buy organic!

Guest's picture

I buy organic ground beef and chicken because I watched too many food documentaries.

Guest's picture
Carmen

Only when it's convenient and only for certain items - like lettuce and some fruits.