Why It’s Okay to Eat Non-Organic Strawberries & 40+ Strawberry Recipes to Enjoy!

June 30, 2016

Whether you choose to buy organic or not, strawberries are safe to eat. Find out why it’s okay to eat non-organic strawberries and get inspired to enjoy this delicious berry with over 40 nutritious and delicious strawberry recipes!

Whether you choose to buy organic or not, strawberries are safe to eat. Find out why it's okay to eat non-organic strawberries and get inspired to enjoy this delicious berry with over 40 nutritious and delicious strawberry recipes at JessicaLevinson.com

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This post was written as part of my ongoing sponsored partnership with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. All opinions expressed are my own.

“Is it worth it and necessary to buy organic fruits and vegetables?” That’s one of the top five questions I get asked by friends, family, and those of you who read my blog and engage with me on social media. My answer has always been the same: If you can afford organic, it’s available to you, and that’s your preference, buy organic. However, there is no significant difference between organic and conventional produce from a nutritional or safety standpoint, so if it’s beyond your budget, I’d rather see you eat regular, conventional, non-organic fruit and vegetables than not eat any fruit and vegetables at all.

Personally, I don’t buy organic fruit and vegetables unless it’s what’s on sale at the supermarket. I rinse my produce well before serving it, but even if my kids sneak a grape or take a bite of their apple before I get to wash it I don’t freak out.

So I was really surprised by the uproar that went on in the media a few months ago when the Environmental Working Group moved strawberries to the top of their Dirty Dozen list for 2016. I mean I shouldn’t be surprised by the media frenzy that comes along with news like this, but if you look at the actual statistics on pesticides in organic vs. non-organic produce you will see that there’s really no reason to get in a tizzy and stop eating conventional strawberries, or any fruit or vegetable for that matter.

Why It’s Okay to Eat Non-Organic Strawberries

A 2011 study in the Journal of Toxicology found that exposure to pesticides on produce from the Dirty Dozen list pose negligible risks, substituting organic for conventional doesn’t result in any appreciable risk reduction, and the EWG’s methods for ranking produce lacks scientific credibility. This study also found that the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program indicated that 23% of organic food samples tested positive for pesticide residues. So are you really better off with organic produce?!

Is conventional food safe? Find out how many fruits and vegetables you can eat without any effect from pesticide residue, and why it's okay to eat non-organic strawberries
Infographic created by USFRA using USDA data

A more recent 2015 study looked at updated estimates of dietary exposure to pesticides in the U.S. using the most recent findings from the FDA’s Total Diet Study. They found that chronic exposure to pesticides in the diet is at levels far below those of health concern. The author’s conclusion was very similar to my own answer above – “consumers should be encouraged to eat fruits, vegetables, and grains and should not fear the low level of pesticide residues found in such foods.”

Back to our sweet, beautiful, antioxidant-rich strawberries. I spoke with Teresa Thorne from the Alliance for Food and Farming, who reaffirmed that “both organic and conventionally grown strawberries are very safe and can be eaten with confidence. Here’s why: an analysis by a University of California toxicologist found that a child could literally eat 1,508 servings of conventionally-grown strawberries in a day and still not have any effects from pesticide residues. That is how low residues are, if present at all.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t know any adult, let alone child, who could eat that many strawberries in a day (and my kids eat A LOT!).

All that is to say, let’s focus on getting the nutrients from our fruits and veggies and stop letting fear get in the way. And let’s get to this amazing compilation of strawberry recipes from my fellow registered dietitians and healthy food bloggers. (You may even want to include some of these in your healthy and delicious barbecue this July 4th weekend!) Whether you choose to make them with organic or non-organic strawberries, the choice is yours. But you can feel confident that you and your family will be safe either way!

Nutritious and Delicious Strawberry Recipes

Breakfast

Amaranth Breakfast Parfait @ Shaws Simple Swaps

Peanut Butter Parfait with Amaranth @ Shaw’s Simple Swaps

Vegan Strawberry Scones @ fANNEtastic Food

Irresistible Quinoa Breakfast Cereal @ Nourish. Breathe. Thrive.

Strawberry Kefir Smoothie @ Jessica Levinson

Strawberry Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins @ Marisa Moore Nutrition

Strawberry Pluot Oatmeal @ The Fresh Beet

Sunflower Seed Butter and Strawberry Wafflewich @ Holley Grainger Nutrition

Fresh Strawberry Chia Baked Oatmeal Pie @ The Spicy RD

Salads, Snacks, Sauces, & Sides

Strawberry Arugula Salad @ Jessica Levinson

Strawberry Arugula Salad with Fennel, Toasted Almonds, and Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette @ Jessica Levinson

Mustard Greens Summer Salad with Yogurt Honey Mustard Vinaigrette @ Bucket List Tummy

Strawberry Salad with Feta @ Dana White Nutrition

Barbi Salad (Strawberry Grilled Chicken Salad) @ Lively Table

Strawberry-Mango Salsa @ Holley Grainger Nutrition

Strawberry Basil Crostini with Balsamic Reduction @ Homemade Nutrition

Strawberry, Peach, and Goat Cheese Bites @ Chelsea's Choices

Strawberry, Peach, and Goat Cheese Bites @ Chelsea’s Choices

Kale and Strawberry Salad with Kefir Buttermilk Dressing @ The Foodie Dietitian

Strawberry Lemon Taragon Sauce @ The Spicy RD

Strawberry Salad Dressing @ Living Well Kitchen

Strawberry Lemon Popy Seed Dressing @ Prep Dish

Strawberry Chia Seed Jam @ Snacking In Sneakers

Main Dishes

Strawberry Pretzel Chicken Wraps @ Sweet Cayenne

Strawberry Pretzel Chicken Wraps @ Sweet Cayenne

Roasted Cod with Strawberries @ Nourish. Breathe. Thrive.

Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese @ Healthy Aperture

Lemon Ricotta Ravioli with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries @ Jessica Levinson

Chicken, Strawberry, Beet Kabobs @ My Menu Pal

Balsamic Chicken, Strawberry and Beet Kabobs @ My Menu Pal

Strawberry Arugula Salad with Chicken, Goat Cheese, Almonds, and Creamy Strawberry Lemon Vinaigrette @ The Spicy RD

Strawberry Cambozola Grilled Cheese @ Living Well Kitchen

Strawberry Quinoa Salad with Orange Vinaigrette @ Healthy Aperture

Dessert

Strawberry Nice Cream @ Smart Nutrition

3-Ingredient Strawberry Nice Cream @ Smart Nutrition

Strawberry-Mango Pudding with Chia Seeds @ GoWin Nutrition

Strawberry Kiwi Cashew Cream Parfait @ Chard in Charge

Vegan Roasted Strawberries with Coconut Whipped Cream @ Marisa Moore Nutrition

Strawberry Ginger Beet Sorbet @ Lively Table

Strawberry Ginger Beet Sorbet @ Lively Table

Strawberry Basil Tarts @ Live Best

Chocolate Strawberry German Pancakes @ Your Choice Nutrition

Strawberry Mousse Parfait @ Jessica Levinson

No-Bake Strawberry Pie @ Chocolate Slopes

Beverages

Strawberry Rhubarb Mimosa @ Jessica Levinson

Strawberry-Rhubarb Mimosas @ Jessica Levinson

Strawberry Banana Smoothie @ Kiss in the Kitchen

Berry Almond Cocoa Smoothie @ Amy Gorin Nutrition

Spicy Strawberry Rhubarb Margaritas @ Jessica Levinson

Strawberry Basil Lemonade @ The Spicy RD

Dark Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie @ Jessica Levinson

Strawberry Coconut Lassi @ The Foodie Physician

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Whether you choose to buy organic or not, strawberries are safe to eat. Find out why it's okay to eat non-organic strawberries and get inspired to enjoy this delicious berry with over 40 nutritious and delicious strawberry recipes at JessicaLevinson.com

Do you feel it’s okay to eat non-organic strawberries or other produce?

Do you have a favorite strawberry recipe?

Share with me in the comments below!
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    1. Thanks Kaleigh! I’m glad you found the information informative and useful. Cheers to enjoying all the produce!

  1. Such a great post, I am saving now to send to clients when I get these questions! I knew I loved you, but know I now we could totally be neighbors! I have the same feelings as you do, I only purchase organic if it happens to be cheaper than the conventional variety! Nice piece, and thanks for including my parfait!

    1. Thanks so much Liz! So glad to know I’m in good company with my thoughts on this topic. Appreciate you sharing it with clients and also on your FB page!

  2. Jessica,
    Great information to give the big picture here in this hot debate! Thanks for putting it all together! And can’t wait to try a few of the recipes for my all time favorite fruit…strawberries!

  3. Great post, Jessica! I love the research to back everything up. I completely agree, I always prefer to buy local strawberries from the farmers market over organic. Sharing now! 🙂

    1. Gotta have research to support claims, right?! Love local freshly picked strawberries too! Thanks for sharing!

  4. This is such a great post, Jessica! I hear all the time about how much better organic is, and my reply is spot on with what you wrote. If it’s about the same as non-organic, sure I’ll buy it, but that doesn’t happen every day. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. “I’d rather see you eat regular, conventional, non-organic fruit and vegetables than not eat any fruit and vegetables at all.”

    THIS is exactly what I said to someone who asked my opinion on organic vs. non-organic just this week. Thank you for sharing this and for the recipes! 🙂

  6. Thanks for this great information. I rarely buy organic so it’s good to know I’m not poisoning my family :-). This is a great collection of strawberry recipes!

    1. Yay! So glad I can help quell any fears you had about not buying organic strawberries! Keep on enjoying those delish berries!

    1. Thanks Janelle. I think people get really afraid of what to eat with all the changing information that constantly gets thrown at them. Important to look at the science.

  7. Great post, Jessica- I learned a lot! And I love that you have the research to back everything up. I cringe when I buy organic strawberries and they’re literally twice the price of conventional! We eat a lot of strawberries in my house- it’s good to know that conventional is an excellent and safe option as well. Thanks so much for including my lassi recipe!

    1. Thanks Sonali. I am so happy I could provide this information for you and help you feel comfortable buying all types of fruit whether you choose organic or conventional!

    1. I haven’t had that experience, but if organic is something you can afford and want to purchase that’s great too. My point is people shouldn’t be afraid to eat conventional. Thanks for pinning!

  8. Thank you for clearing up the issue! If anyone is eating that many servings of strawberries a day…. I guess they have bigger issues, haha. And I can’t wait to try the recipes!

  9. Thanks so much for writing on this! I am getting my degree in food and nutrition and plan to pursue my internship and credentials shortly after. I have learned all of this but still feel so alone among classmates and other RD’s who constantly press organics. I often tell people they are great if you can afford them and choose to buy them but especially if they’re on a budget that it’s better to eat fruits and vegetables than to avoid them because they are not organic. I often receive a scoff and eyes that say, “are you really going to be a trustworthy RD?” So Frustrating! Thanks again for getting the message out:)

    1. Hi Christina,
      Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts. I’m sorry to hear that your classmates and other RDs scoff at you for having this viewpoint. I think people are so easily swayed by media and fear mongers. Stand your ground and stay true to what you believe Christina!

    1. Thanks Angela. So glad I can help quell your fears about buying those strawberries. I bet they’re delicious!

  10. Great post! I agree with you 100% on this. I hate to see anyone skipping out on delicious fruits and vegetables just because they can’t afford organic. And thanks for including my chocolate strawberry German pancakes recipe in your round-up!

    1. Thanks so much Brittany! Glad to know you agree. Can’t wait to try those German pancakes. They’re mouthwatering!

  11. Although some scientists agree that non-organic fruits and veggies are safe and pose very little risk other scientists caution that if you are pregnant, nursing, or even children because of their yet fully developed immune system as well as someone who has cancer should avoid exposure to pesticides and herbicides found in non-organic fruits and vegetables.

  12. […] that my favorite spring fruits and vegetables are making their way into supermarkets near me. The strawberries are finally flavorful, the asparagus are crisp and bright green as they should be, radishes can be […]

  13. Strawberry Arugula Salad with Fennel, Toasted Almonds, and Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette {Gluten-Free, Vegan} says:

    […] (where I get all the ingredients for that winter salad). Whomp whomp :cry:. On the bright side, strawberries are in season! So what better way to change up my go-to weeknight salad than to add strawberries […]

  14. […] the spring, one of my favorite fruits is strawberries and I also love rhubarb, a vegetable most often paired with fruit due to its tart flavor. […]

  15. Love this roundup! The best part of this time of year is eating the best strawberries! They are sooooo good right! I will be making more than a few of these recipes! Thanks for rounding em’ all up!

  16. This is really great information! Thanks for sharing! And that roundup looks super delicious!

  17. I find this fascinating and reassuring. I have to admit not buying fruit I want because the organic version are so darn expensive! That includes apples and strawberries. I’ll let my guard down and enjoy!

    1. I’m glad it’s helpful Alisa. Your experience is exactly why it bothers me so much. Hope you’re able to enjoy all fruits and veggies whether organic or not!

  18. Super interesting post!! I was so worried about organic for awhile and then to be honest, I realized in a lot of cases it was better to be getting the veggies!! There are only a couple I’m sticklers on, like apples because the regular one’s taste waxy.

    1. Thanks Amanda – so glad that you came to that conclusion on your own and are enjoying most fruits and veggies despite organic or conventional growing. By the way, I think the waxiness of apples isn’t dependent on organic or conventional – i have found that apples from the farmers markets, not all of which are organic, are less waxy than super size ones at supermarkets!

  19. Interesting! All pesticide risks aside, I buy organic berries because they’re more flavorful, 9 times out of 10. Good to know, though!

    1. Thanks for sharing your reasoning Jordan. I think the flavor really varies depending on ripeness, but I have heard others say that as well!

  20. Love this post and all the comments! I was not on the organic train at all until I read a really good research related book that basically shared this exact info. If I can afford it, then I get the organic because I figure if there’s no harm in choosing the lesser pesticide option. However, if I can’t afford the organic (which I usually can’t) then I don’t stress and just get the conventional. Totally agree that fruits and veggies are better than none at all. PS I don’t even wash my fruit all the time before serving it 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Brynn. It’s definitely a divisive topic. I’m glad you choose conventional fruit over no fruit when you can’t afford the organic. As for washing your produce, that I recommend no matter what you buy 😉

  21. looks like strawberries took the top spot again! but Im with you, exactly same buying patterns. Unless they look more amazing are less expensive (or are at the farmers market), I don’t buy organic. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes, they did, which is why this is an important message to get out again now while the media is having a field day putting down conventional produce! So glad to hear you buy what looks good and is a good price for you. At the end of the day let’s just eat our fruits and veggies. More matters!

  22. Thanks for this! My son eats a pint of strawberries a day literally I buy 4 at a time. The organic ones were $9 today which is just ridiculous. They kind of make you feel guilty if you don’t buy them

  23. All of these recipes look SO vibrant and refreshing, I can’t even choose my favourite! Gotta love strawberries! I’ll have to try some of these out for sure!

  24. I still opt for organic produce when it comes to the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15. There are just some things that give me the heebie jeebies.

    1. I’m all for everyone choosing what’s right for themselves and what fits your budget, so if you can afford organic then why not. But the message that conventional is just as safe is an important one that I hope you will share if asked.

  25. I’m so glad it’s spring! I love strawberries–can’t wait to try some of these recipes out (but it’s gonna be so hard to figure out what to start with! *-*)!

  26. This looks delicious and I of course appreciate that you discussed people’s fears surrounding organic versus non-organic :).

  27. This was a great post on a topic that you don’t hear much about. You’re very informative + I am seriously loving every, single one of these recipes! Now which to try first 🙂