When to Buy Organic, and When to Pass

Jan. 8, 2006 — -- When buying some products, it may be worth the extra money to buy organic for health benefits. But these days, with almost everything possible being labeled organic, it's difficult to know when to pay the extra money.

A "Consumer Reports" investigation concluded that shoppers do not need to buy organic across the board -- that some products are worth seeking out, some are worth buying only if price is no object, and some are not worth buying at all because they don't offer additional health benefits.

Organic products worth buying to avoid chemicals found in the conventionally produced versions:


bell peppers





ABC News medical editor Dr. David Katz said that the above items are likely to be contaminated by pesticides.

"You're going to see a big difference between an organic apple and a conventional apple when it comes to chemicals and pesticides," he said. "So if you buy anything organic, buy these things organic."

Organic products worth buying only if price is no object include:

processed foods


sweet corn



sweet peas

Katz said the above items tend not be as affected by pesticides as those in the first category because "either they aren't sprayed as much or they tend don't absorb chemicals as easily."

"You're not going to see as big a difference between the organic and the conventional produce in these cases," he said. "So it may not be worth the extra money."

Organically labeled items not worth buying:



Katz explained why it's not worth buying organic seafood.

"You can't really control what gets into fish," he said. "If there are chemicals in the ocean, they're going to be absorbed into that fish and there is no way to tell how much is in there. So labeling any sort of seafood as organic is a bit misleading."

Dr. Katz called it "just plain silly" to even call cosmetics and shampoo "organic."

"Companies slap 'organic' on the label if there is one ingredient out of 100 that is organic. All the rest of it could be chemicals," he said.