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If you’re looking to eat healthier but don’t have time to shop for fresh produce each week, produce subscription boxes are an option. These companies partner with various local farms to deliver weekly boxes right to your door.

Organic fruits and vegetables tend to be higher in nutrient content than their non-organic counterparts, including antioxidants. Furthermore, they often have fewer pesticide residues.

How to Know if a Fruit or Vegetable is Organic

Many shoppers often ask, “How do I know if a fruit or vegetable is organic?” This can be confusing due to all of the different dietary claims made about foods. But understanding what “organic” means will enable you to make better informed decisions when shopping for your family’s nutrition in the future.

Organic food refers to food grown using practices and methods designed to restore or maintain ecological balance between soil, plants and animals. This type of farming produces food which is healthier for you and the planet with no pesticide residues or synthetic fertilizers present.

When shopping for organic produce, look for the words “organic” or something similar on the labels. This usually indicates that the item has been certified by an accredited USDA certifier who checks that the farmer followed all organic growing regulations.

Some organic farmers may utilize fertilizers that contain synthetic ingredients or substances such as sewage sludge, which are not allowed under organic standards. Furthermore, they could opt for the use of certain non-organic pesticides.

Many consumers mistakenly assume all foods labeled “organic” are pesticide-free, but this is not always the case. Some pesticides are allowed in organic production – like copper sulfate – which has no natural alternatives and is considered hazardous by the EPA.

You can usually tell if an item is organic by looking at its PLU code, which stands for “packet label unit.” If the initial digit on this number (the prefix) is 9 or 8, that indicates that the product has been certified organic.

Another way to tell if an organic fruit or vegetable is certified organic is by inspecting its texture and taste. Organic produce tends to have more of a rustic aesthetic than conventionally produced items, as they haven’t been polished or waxed for shine and glossiness.

Organic fruits and vegetables often have a distinct smell from their non-organic counterparts, due to the lack of chemical processing which can often strip away natural fragrances, according to Francene Steinberg PhD, RDN chair of the University of California Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Nutrition.

Which Fruits and Vegetables Should I Buy Organic?

For those seeking to eat healthier, organic produce is an excellent choice. Not only does it contain more health benefits than conventionally grown versions, but organic produce tends to be fresher due to the absence of preservatives that make foods last longer. Furthermore, going organic has many environmental advantages; it reduces pollution and waste production, conserves water resources, improves soil fertility, and uses less energy overall.

Many fruits and vegetables are contaminated with pesticides or insecticides, which can lead to health issues like headaches, skin irritation, and digestive upsets. To make it easier to determine which produce should be purchased organically, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) tests them after being purchased from the grocery store. Their results are then published in a list called Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen which tells shoppers which foods have either the highest or lowest levels of pesticide residue.

The EWG reported that potatoes, pears, cherries, grapes and berries are some of the most frequently contaminated produce items. Furthermore, these items tend to be expensive so it’s important to factor in your budget when making a purchase.

Other foods high in pesticides include tomatoes, celery and green beans. These produce varieties have thin skins which are easily soaked up by pesticides, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

When purchasing organic foods for children, it’s especially important to opt for items with a thick outer layer that shields them from pesticide exposure. Examples of such foods include avocadoes, sweet potatoes and cabbage which all benefit from purchasing organic.

Organic eggplants are another wise vegetable to purchase organic. Eggplants have a protective outer layer which keeps them safe from pesticides; the Environmental Working Group found that 75% of eggplant samples tested had no residues from pesticides, making them an ideal choice for those wanting to minimize exposure.

Cantaloupes boast an impressive defense against pesticides. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), more than 60% of cantaloupes had no pesticide residue at all, making them a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to organic versions.

When on a budget, it’s worth exploring the “Clean 15” list for fruits and vegetables with minimal pesticide residue. These items tend to be cheaper than their organic counterparts and may be suitable for those on a tight budget.

Which Fruits and Vegetables Should I Buy Non-Organic?

When shopping for produce, organic fruits and veggies are always the healthier choice than their non-organic counterparts. These foods lack antibiotics, hormones or chemical fertilizers – thus reducing the chance of pesticides entering your body and leading to diseases like cancer or birth defects, according to The New York Times.

Organic food can be expensive, however. Estimates suggest the average family spends 47% more on organic produce than conventionally grown alternatives – making them a luxury many families cannot justify.

Due to this, some people may opt for non-organic versions of certain fruits and vegetables. These foods don’t contain as many pesticide residues as their organic counterparts, so spending a little extra money can go a long way towards helping you reduce your grocery bill.

Watermelon, for instance, is a popular non-organic option due to its thick rind that prevents pesticides from penetrating into its flesh. Furthermore, it’s one of the richest sources of vitamin C essential for your immunity and skin health.

Avocados are an excellent non-organic option due to their thick skins that protect them from pesticide exposure. Furthermore, these nutritious fruits provide fiber and protein as well as vitamins K, B-6 and E. Additionally, these unsaturated fats may lower your risk of heart disease.

Arguably, asparagus is a safe and delicious non-organic option as its husk and peel contain no chemicals. Furthermore, more than 90 percent of samples tested by the Environmental Working Group were free from pesticide residues.

Strawberry’s thin skins absorb pesticides and can be difficult to wash, making organic versions a good idea.

Other vegetables to steer clear of, especially those rated high in pesticides by the Environmental Working Group, include cherry and grape tomatoes; carrots and cauliflower; green beans; and celery.

By opting for non-organic versions of these foods, you can help keep your grocery bills down by buying in season when prices are lowest and making informed decisions about which organic items to purchase. Furthermore, look for local farmers who employ transparent growing practices so you know exactly where your produce comes from and what it has been exposed to during production. This way, you’ll know exactly where it came from and what conditions it was exposed to during transportation.

Which Fruits and Vegetables Should I Buy Frozen?

Frozen fruits and vegetables can be an economical way to help you meet your daily fruit and veggie goals. Not only are they more cost-effective than fresh, but they also last longer and can be utilized in many different meals.

However, you should ensure you select frozen produce without added sugar or flavorings. Furthermore, remember that salt levels in frozen foods tend to be higher than fresh ones; so check the ingredients list and opt for a product with no added sodium (or aim for 10% of DV of sodium per serving)

Some of the top frozen fruits and veggies to buy include berries, kale, broccoli and mixed vegetables. All are packed full of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Plus they have a high water content so they’re ideal for cooking or blending into smoothies and soups or adding to Instant Pot or slow cooker meals.

Another popular choice is frozen carrots, which provide essential nutrients like beta-carotene and fiber. Plus, they’re easy to cook and have a long shelf life.

You can find frozen vegetables in many forms and sizes, from chopped vegetables to florets and premium options with longer stems. They make excellent meal prep items if you have the time and energy to chop and prepare them before use.

Frozen fruit and vegetables, unlike fresh produce, are frozen shortly after harvesting to maintain their nutritional profile and prevent degrading before consumption. This helps ensure they provide you with more vitamins and minerals for longer.

When shopping for vegetables, look for those labeled with USDA grades. These ratings are based on size, odor and quality; grade A foods tend to be the highest grade and will hold up better when cooked than lower-grade items.

Dietitians often recommend purchasing frozen vegetables due to their convenience and often easier use in meals than fresh alternatives. Furthermore, frozen veggies tend to be cheaper than their fresh counterparts so you can afford to stock up on extra bags and save money over the course of a year.

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