NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Has this ever happened to you?
You walk into the local supermarket, shopping list in hand, and find yourself in the colorful produce section. You snag a plastic bag, and start picking out some shiny conventional apples. Just as you think you've selected the right ones, you notice another display of similar looking apples (maybe even more odd shaped and of various colors) in a fancier rack with a sign that reads, "Organic," in bold letters.
The first thing you'd notice is the difference in price, and you say to yourself: Is it worth paying more?
It's true that organic foods tend to be more expensive --sometimes 40%-50% more-- but that's often because of the higher cost of organic farming practices.
What is the difference between organic and non-organic foods?
The Mayo Clinic says the word "organic" refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Examples of organic farming practices include the use of natural fertilizers to feed soil and plants, and using crop rotation or mulch to manage weeds.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards which regulate how foods are grown, handled and processed. The three factors the USDA considers include pesticides, food additives, and the environment.
Pesticides: When farmers spray pesticides, it leaves residue on the produce that we later consume. Organic farmers use insect traps, careful crop selection, predator insects or even microorganisms in place of pesticides to control crop-damaging pests.
Food Additives: Organic regulations also ban or severely restrict the use of food additives, processing aids and fortifying agents used in non-organic products like preservatives, artificial sweeteners, coloring and flavoring, as well as monosodium glutamate.
Environment: Organic farming practices benefit the environment by reducing pollution and conserving the quality of water and soil.
Although non-organic foods may have the same amount of nutrients than organic foods, they also can have synthetic pesticides, hormones and additives, none of which may be good for our bodies.
Check out this list of the 10 foods you should only buy and eat organic...
...and any other fatty meats you love to shop for. Research shows that there is a strong connection between some of the hormones given to cattle and cancer in humans, particularly breast cancer, according to professor emeritus at University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health, Samuel Epstein, MD. Animal feed is often laced with antibiotics and synthetic growth hormones.
The Cancer Prevention Coalition believes that U.S. meat possess increased risks of hormonal cancers, which have escalated since 1975: breast cancer by 23%, prostate cancer by 60%, and testicular cancer by 60%.
9. Peanut Butter
No more Skippy! Non-organic peanut butters are high in pesticides as well as fungus. They contain aflatoxin, which is a potential carcinogen.
Kids love those PB&Js, so buy organic if you can.
These delicious starchy potatoes often retain pesticides even after they are washed and peeled. Yes, really.
The USDA found that 81% of potatoes tested in 2006 contained pesticides even after being washed and peeled. Yuck.
A whopping 12 different pesticides have been detected in milk. Dairy cows are routinely fed hormones, antibiotics, and pesticide covered grains, which can all end up in your glass of milk. You should know that the higher the fat level of the milk, the higher the level of pesticides (so, skim has less than whole).
As a staple for toddlers' diets, parents need to be extra mindful!
Apples are an awesome source of fiber, especially if you eat the peel. The peel also has nutrients that may reduce your odds of getting cancer and heart disease, but it also is where pesticides can build up.
Apples are near the top of the high pesticide level list. They're also a kids favorite: Apples, apple juice, and applesauce are among the most common foods eaten by children ages 1 to 5, according to a USDA survey.
Strawberries are a super-food. The heart-shaped berries protect your heart, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, and guard against cancer, but its thin skin makes it particularly vulnerable to pesticides.
In fact, up to 13 pesticides have been detected on conventional strawberries, according to Environmental Working Group.
Think about a spinach leaf. It has plenty of surface area for pesticides to cover. A USDA study found 58 pesticide residues are usually contained in spinach, and more than 83% of spinach contains pesticides.
They are sprayed with more than 20 kinds of pesticides before being tossed in our salads and sauteed for our omelets.
Grapes are another low-calorie snack or dessert, with one cup containing just 104 calories. The fruit is also packed with vitamins C and K. However, about 86% of conventional grapes contain pesticides. And it's pretty hard to peel a grape.
Since grapes ripen fast, tend to mold, and attract insects, growers apply various chemicals on them multiple times. Try to avoid imported grapes --especially from Chile-- because they often have higher pesticide residues.
That crunchy, low-calorie vegetable with vitamins A, C, and K, folate, potassium, and manganese is best when organic. The celery stalks are very porous, so they keep the pesticides they're sprayed with which could be up to 13 different kinds.
Go organic for this one! Made of 95% water, cucumbers contain unique polyphenols and other compounds that can help reduce your risk of chronic diseases and much more. But, the waxes (many petroleum-based) used to make the skin shiny and withstand the long trip to the supermarket unscarred, also tends to hold chemicals.
Cucumbers were ranked the 12th most contaminated food and the second in cancer risk due to their pesticide content, according to the Environmental Working Group, and tops our list of the 10 foods to buy organic.
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