Should My Salad Be Organic? (and a Cucumber Chickpea Salad)

source: Kim Lutz

I spend a lot of my time thinking about food. Cooking food. Writing about food.

Even with all of that, I still sometimes get overwhelmed trying to figure out what food I should buy.

For example, when do I need to buy organic and when can I spare my overburdened food budget and buy conventional produce?

Lucky for me there’s help figuring that out. I check with the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Every year they produce a list of the “Dirty Dozen” — produce that’s the most impacted by pesticides when grown conventionally that you should buy organic. The current list includes these fruits and vegetables: apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, imported nectarines, potatoes, spinach and strawberries. The current list also includes two additions: kale/collard greens and summer squash because when they were tested they carried residues of toxic pesticides that aren’t in use any more.

EWG also produces a list of produce that’s probably okay to buy conventional. These they call “The Clean Fifteen.” These include: asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, sweet corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mango, mushrooms, onions, papaya, pineapple, frozen sweet peas, and sweet potatoes.

Once I know the facts, I can go ahead and indulge in the produce I love. For the salad below, I am sure to buy organic cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. That way I can enjoy without worry!

Other favorite salad recipes include:

Cucumber Chickpea Salad

serves 2 – 4


  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded
  • 1 tomato or large handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • small bunch of fresh basil, minced
  • small bunch of fresh chives, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • salt and pepper


  1. Thinly slice cucumbers and tomato.
  2. Combine vegetables with chickpeas and minced herbs.
  3. Toss salad with olive oil and then with the red wine vinegar and agave nectar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe Note: I don’t like a very oil-heavy salad, you can always adjust the oil and vinegar amounts to suit your taste.

Kim Lutz is a vegan mom to two boys, and lives with her rocker husband, dog and cat. She is the author of Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes and the gluten-free, allergen-free, vegan website, Kim is the co-author with Megan Hart, MS, RD, LD, of two other cookbooks.

Read all of Kim’s posts here.

9 Responses to Should My Salad Be Organic? (and a Cucumber Chickpea Salad)

  • I love cucumber salads, Kim! I can’t wait until later in the summer when I can get them fresh at the farmers’ market. I go through dozens a week when they’re in season. :)


    Kim Reply:

    @Hallie @ Daily Bites, Even my kids love cucumbers, Hallie. We grew them last year, and they would eat them right away.


  • Maggie says:

    This looks lovely Kim! I’m all about the Dirty Dozen too. Most of our produce is organic these days :) Thanks for sharing a great summery recipe!


    Kim Reply:

    @Maggie, Most of ours is too, but it’s good to know the absolutely-have-to-be organics. Can’t wait for summer!


  • Linda says:

    Just wanted to say I’ve started buying as much organic produce as I can to get away from GMO’s. Are you concerned about them?


    Kim Lutz Reply:

    @Linda, I am concerned, too. That is another reason why I buy organic. Thank you for pointing it out.


  • I had no idea that the Dirty Dozen changes! Thanks so much for the link and for the delicious summer salad. Summer is soooooo close, I can almost taste it!!!!



    Kim Reply:

    @Heather @Gluten-Free Cat, Our temperatures just dropped 25 degrees, so we went from summer seeming so close to so far away again! Maybe another couple days of soups are in our future!


  • Heather says:

    “Recipe for Healthy Gluten-Free Diet: Should My Salad
    Be Organic?” was a superb read and also I actually ended up being really content to find the blog.
    Thanks for the post,Steven


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