The multitude of decisions you must make for your baby can feel overwhelming. In addition to deciding what you will feed them (which foods and when?) and how (baby-led weaning or purees?), you must also consider the quality of their food. “Organic,” “Natural,” “Farm-Raised,”… the terminology in the grocery isle these days can be daunting. We’re here to help simplify one of these terms for you in order to make your shopping swifter and your conscience lighter.

What does the term “organic” actually mean? The USDA has produced a list of standards that food must meet in order to be certified “organic.” This includes no exposure to synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering. Note that not all foods with the organic label are 100% organic; the organic label is given to foods “based on the percentage of organic ingredients in food,” as regulated by the FDA. For the full list of standards and procedures set in place by the USDA, click here.

Most experts agree that we should be mindful of what we feed our babies. Some argue, however, that the amount of pesticides that is actually absorbed by baby’s body is not significant enough to be harmful. Others claim that pesticides have been linked to various health problems, and that babies are at an increased risk as they are in such a vulnerable stage of development.

You’ve probably observed by now that “organic” food usually means a higher price tag.  If you’d like to stick to a budget or simply aren’t sure if you’re ready to hop on the organic bandwagon, start with this list when choosing which foods to buy organic.

The following are the foods that typically have the highest levels of pesticide residue, according to the EWG. Commonly referred to as “The Dirty Dozen,” they should be bought organic whenever possible:

  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Bell Peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Cherry Tomatoes
  9. Spinach
  10. Grapes
  11. Tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

In addition to foods with edible peels, these foods are typically found with the lowest levels of pesticide residue (referred to as “The Clean 15”):

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet Peas Frozen
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew Melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower

What matters most in parenting is that we show our children love and make choices that are the right fit for their individual needs. Often times this means combining multiple ideas and approaches, making compromises, and creating a plan that works for you and your family.  One method or ideology may work for you in some ways but not in others, and that’s okay. Do your research, decide what’s important to you, and give it your best.

Jenna Lombardi
Jenna Lombardi
Jenna Lombardi currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Andrew, and their two children, Aaron and Clare. She loves to travel (even with kids!), find a good bargain, and enjoys an iced chai latte with soy milk every now and then. When she’s not wrangling the kids at the playground or the zoo, she can be found practicing hand lettering, reading about pregnancy and natural childbirth, or testing out a new recipe in the kitchen.