The Low-Down on Organic - Amanda Hilton
The Low-Down on Organic

The Low-Down on Organic

Amanda Hilton

March 11, 2022
(updated September 6, 2023)

Anyone who has stepped foot in a supermarket knows that organic foods are becoming more readily available for consumer purchase. But many consumers are still unsure of the organic movement and whether it’s really worth the extra cost in the long run. After doing a slew of research myself, I chose to switch my family to a mainly organic diet 5 years ago. I’m not going to lecture you on all the horrible results I discovered about pesticides, herbicides, hormones, chemicals and antibiotics because frankly we all know how bad they are. My hope is to provide you with some info about how you too can make the switch to choosing more organic foods so that your family can get the most benefit out of what they eat.

EWG list

Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) creates a list of the twelve dirtiest foods and the cleanest fifteen. The “Dirty Dozen” are the twelve foods with the highest amount of pesticide residue and the “Clean Fifteen” have the least amount of pesticides (these are often foods with an outer skin that is removed before eating). Since the cost of organic produce can often be more expensive than conventional produce, a great way to start your journey to reduce chemical consumption is to buy only the Dirty Dozen organic and the Clean Fifteen conventional. The EWG list for 2023 is: (drum roll please!)

Dirty Dozen                                                            Clean Fifteen

1. Strawberries                                                              1. Avocados

2. Spinach                                                                      2. Sweet Corn

3. Kale, collard and mustard greens                        3. Pineapple

4. Peaches                                                                      4. Onions

5. Pears                                                                           5. Papaya

6. Nectarines                                                                 6. Sweet Peas, frozen

7. Apples                                                                        7. Asparagus

8. Grapes                                                                       8. Honeydew melon

9. Bell & hot peppers                                                   9. Kiwi

10. Cherries                                                                  10. Cabbage

11. Blueberries                                                              11. Mushrooms

12. Green beans                                                            12. Mangos

                                                                                         13. Sweet Potatoes

                                                                                  14. Watermelon 

                                                                                  15. Carrots  

Grow Your Own

If the cost of organic produce just blows your mind, you could try growing your own fruits and veggies. Setting up a small garden in your backyard or at a local community garden and planting organic seeds in organic soil is a great way to cut down on the cost of eating clean. If you are having a hard time finding a source for purchasing organic seeds, Seeds of Diversity Canada has a resource list that contains a long list of mail order sources of heritage and organic seeds. If you're thinking, “I don’t have a clue about planting vegetables'', put your worries to rest, most seed packets come with planting directions printed on the package back, detailing best planting dates, the depth at which to bury the seeds, and the number of days from planting to first harvest. Keep in mind that your garden is similar to having children, you can’t just leave it to fend for itself and expect it to grow in abundance. Gardens need tender loving care. Daily watering and grooming are essential but all the hard work will pay off with the fruits of your labour.

Local CSA

If you are already writing off the idea of having an organic garden, because you are lacking the space or a green thumb, no worries, there are many Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) associations that offer organic produce at a great cost. Not only will you be supporting local farmers who strive to grow organic only, but you will be benefiting your family’s health too. As a Nutritionist and someone who loves trying new recipes, what I like about getting my CSA food share each week is the variety. Sometimes we get new foods that we haven’t tried (like when we got the yellow watermelon that my daughter fell in love with) or foods that we should be eating more of because of their health benefits but I would forget to buy at the grocery store since it wasn’t on my menu list (hello beets!! They make the best juice!). A quick google search will bring up your local CSA directory and you can choose which one best suits your family.

Animals Are People Too

If there is only one thing you are prepared to do to make the move to organic, it should be to consume organic animal products. Not only will you help your family to avoid nasty antibiotics and hormones that are sometimes added to animal products but, organic regulations have standards for animal care. Organic eggs come from chickens who are fed a diet of organic chicken feed without other animal by-products, are free-range (have access to the outdoors), and are not given antibiotics. Organic cattle are also prohibited from antibiotics and hormones as preventative treatment and are not permitted animal by-products in their feed, 30% of their dry matter feed comes from pasture grazing. Yes, organic milk, eggs, cheese and meat are more expensive to purchase but this is because it also costs the farmers more to care for and feed their animals. To save a bit of money while still adhering to an organic diet, you could try going meatless several times a week.

Although eating organic can cost a bit more, it can profoundly affect your long-term health. I always recommend that infants consume organic baby foods as they are more sensitive to pesticides because they have immature nervous and immune systems. If you need help transitioning to a clean organic diet for you and your family, send me a message at to set up a consultation so I can help you reach your health goals. Also, check out my posts showing our bountiful CSA weekly share @amandahiltonrhn.