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Organic – The Dirty Dozen & The Clean 15

As much as I would like to buy all of my food organic, grass-fed, local, etc. it’s just not always possible.  Sometimes it’s the cost that stops me and other times it’s availability.  But either way, I’m always reminding myself to simply do the best that I can at any given time.

And unless you live on a pasture with your own grass-fed crew of animals and a lovely acre of beautifully grown organic veggies, chances are you too have had to consume some hormones, pesticides, and G-only knows what else along your clean-eating journey.  It’s par for the course, and bound to happen and when all is said and done (in my opinion) eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.

In other words, your food doesn’t HAVE to be organic to be worth your time although if and when it can, it will probably work in your favor.

This handy-dandy resource is from EWG’s Shopper Guide is a super helpful guide for anyone trying to decide what and when to buy organic and when to let it go.

The Dirty Dozen – these are the 12 most contaminated fruits and veggies and are best to buy organic (whenever you can).

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Blueberries
  • Potatoes
  • Green Beans*
  • Kale*

The Clean 15 – these are the fruits and veggies with the least contamination and a better bet when choosing conventionally grown produce.

  • Onions
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Watermelon
  • Mushrooms

*”This year we have expanded the Dirty Dozen with a Plus category to highlight two crops — green beans and leafy greens, meaning, kale and collard greens – that did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but were commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. These insecticides are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade. But they are not banned and still show up on some food crops.” – from the EWG website

The bottom line is this:

Be grateful for guides like this.  Use them to your advantage.  Eat your fruits and veggies and do the best you can.  If you can do all organic, great.  If you can’t, no worries.  Find a way to make eating clean work for you and be proud of the efforts you make.

But I am curious.  Do you buy organic?  How important do you make it?  Do you pick and choose or skip it all together?  Would love to hear your thoughts!

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8 comments on “Organic – The Dirty Dozen & The Clean 15

  1. Thank you for the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 update. Also, for the terrific explanation.

  2. Thanks for posting this! So glad I saw this, because this list changes, and it’s good to know for when I shop. I pick and choose. Most of the organic apples at my local stores are too mealy and not so good. But since I see it is #1 I either will skip on apples or bite the bullet and buy organic! We were just talking about this, this afternoon too at lunch.

    I do what I can to eat clean & organic. My budget won’t allow for everything, but what is important, I prioritize on buying organic, hormone free, pasture fed, etc where I am able.

  3. Thank you for this list. It is a nice guide. However, I disagree with where cantaloupe is. I have read lots of evidence of cantaloup being highly contaminated and that it gets absorbed into the stem and goes down into the fruit itself. I will only buy organic cantaloup.

    just to list a few….

  4. Hi, I discover this list last year thanks to pinterest… I was amazed at how can this be possible!!!, all the things that these people (agricultural companies) doesn’t care of getting in the body of all people this poisons!!!… Well we are a family of five and sadly on a very low budget, and buy organic is very high price, sometime double from regular produce, so I use a farmers market, were at least I’m trusting that because most things are local they’ll use less pesticides and I’m just starting to grow a garden, which is NOT easy!… it’s been a month and my kale and lettuce is so tiny :(… I never gardened before so I’ve been scavenging internet to learn … but bottom line is I try to avoid now all this dirty ones!

  5. Thank you for your valued post. Very useful for most fair-minded consumers.

    My family grows a whole lot of veggies in our small back yard. We have utilized every available inch in which we can plant something. We live in Phoenix, AZ and against the conventional wisdom (of heat, dryness, hard soil etc. etc.) we have succeeded now for many years.

    Again, thank you for your service in educating the minds of the general public.
    Lal Fernando

  6. Prior to eating, what is the best way to clean fruits and vegetables? Thank you.

    • I simply run mine under water and give them a good scrub. I know they sell fruit and veggie washes but I have never tried them.

  7. I can’t afford organic all the time so i pick organic stuff that i can’t peel and save money on things i can peel. Most of the nasties are in the skin. Or so i believe.

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