Organic foods that are worth the cost

LOS ANGELES In the early 1990s, organic food production increased at a rate of about 20 percent a year, making it widely available and lowering prices. But growing food without pesticides takes more time and money, so the extra cost is passed on to the consumer.

If cost is an issue, it is recommended to "go organic" when choosing foods that conventionally are more heavily sprayed with pesticides.

Known as "The Dirty Dozen," these foods are considered best bets, organically: Peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, imported grapes, pears, potatoes, spinach and lettuce.

Nonorganic cattle may be fed hormones, although chickens and pigs may not. But in order to be 100 percent organic, cattle must be fed organic feed as well, which is pricey.

The next best thing might be choosing meats coined "natural."

While the term "natural" is not regulated, many ranches growing natural beef feed livestock grass rather than corn and are free of hormones and antibiotics.

In addition, organics might be a plus for families who drink a lot of milk, as some studies have found that organic milk contains higher levels of healthier fats and antioxidants, as well as being antibiotic- and hormone-free.

Keep in mind, if you can't remember the entire list, remember the foods with protective peels like citrus, avocado and onion don't necessarily need to be organic because they have their own little coat of armor.

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