When trying to eat healthy, we all know that is best to stick with whole, fresh foods. But when it comes to buying these fresh produce, we get stuck between the labels. What is the difference between Non-GMO, organic, USDA certified organic, etc.? Should I buy everything organic, or can I save some money by purchasing conventional fruits and vegetables?

Let’s start with defining these labels, to better answer these questions:


Stands for genetically modified organism. This organism can be a plant, animal, or other organism that their genetic makeup has been modified using various scientific methods. Genetically modified foods (GMO foods) have been shown to cause harm to humans, animals, and the environment, so it is important to stay clear from them. However, it can get very hard to find every thing Non-GMO. Therefore, I have listed below the top 10 worst GMO foods as of 2017, please note that this list can change from year to year.

10 worst GMO foods

USDA Organic:

According to the USDA the goal of organic farming is: “integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

If “USDA Organic” or “Certified Organic” seal is on any product, that means the item must have an ingredient list and contents should be 95% or more Certified Organic. This means 95% or more of that product should be free of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, dyes, and must not be processed using industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering (GMO). The remaining 5% may only be processed with additives on the approved list.

100% Organic:

If a product is labeled “100% Organic” that means all the ingredients should meet the Organic guidelines.

Made with Organic:

“Made with organic,” means that the ingredients must contain 70% or more organic ingredients, the USDA seal cannot be used anywhere on the package, and the remaining 30% of the ingredients may not be foods or processed with additives on a special exclusion list.

Okay, now we have a better understanding about what all the different labels mean, but do we have to buy every thing Organic? Buying Organic can be very expensive, so how can we get the best for our buck? The good news is, even though it will be good to buy every thing organic, if one can afford,  there are some produce that we can buy the conventional kind.  Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases the “Dirty Dozen,” a list of produce that ranks with the highest concentration of pesticides. To determine which items typically have the highest pesticide levels, the EWG analyzes test by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This year, they found that nearly 70 percent of samples of 48 types of conventional produce were contaminated with residues of one or more pesticides. Further, USDA researchers found a total of 178 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on the thousands of produce samples they analyzed. Even worse, is the fact that pesticide residues remained on fruits and vegetables even after they were washed and, in some cases, peeled. Below is a list of 2017 Dirty Dozen followed by Clean 15:

dirty dozen

clean 15

*Corn and Papaya are genetically modified, in order to avoid GMOs it is better to get these Organic.

Bottom line:

  • Not all Non-GMOs are Organic
  • All produce labeled USDA certified organic are GMO free
  • 100% certified organic means 100% Organic
  • USDA Certified Organic means 95% or more Organic
  • Made with organic means 70% or more Organic

Feel free to send me a question or comment!

Stay happy and healthy



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