Organic or Not? Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen

Organic or Not? Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen

As more people prioritize health and environmental concerns, organic produce is becoming increasingly popular. But for many, the higher prices of organic fruits and veggies can be a challenge. That's why it is important to be informed about the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists. These guides help prioritize which fruits and vegetables to buy organic based on their pesticide exposure levels, enabling you to make smarter, safer choices for your health and the environment, without necessarily stretching your budget.

The Dirty Dozen: Your Organic Must-Haves

Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases the "Dirty Dozen," a list of fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residues. These are the items you'll want to prioritize for organic purchases:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale, Collard, and Mustard Greens
  • Peaches and Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Bell and Hot Peppers

These foods often contain residues from multiple pesticides, even after washing and peeling. Opting for organic versions of these items can significantly reduce your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

The "Clean" Fifteen: Where You Can Save

Conversely, the "Clean Fifteen" list identifies produce with the lowest pesticide levels. These fruits and vegetables are safer to buy in their conventional form, allowing you to save money without significantly increasing your chemical exposure:

  • Avocados
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Eggplants
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Kiwi
  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Cantaloupes

These selections tend to have minimal pesticide residues and provide a cost-effective way to enjoy fresh produce while minimizing health risks.

Why It Matters

Choosing organic, particularly for the Dirty Dozen, supports farming practices that are better for the environment by reducing pollution and preserving soil and water quality. Moreover, reducing your exposure to pesticides is beneficial for your health, particularly for vulnerable populations like children, pregnant women, and the elderly.

Making Informed Choices

While the lists of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen serve as a helpful guide for minimizing pesticide exposure, they are not the sole factor to consider when making food choices.

Nutritional value, freshness, cost, and environmental impact are all important. In this spirit, we also encourage exploring local and seasonal produce options. Supporting local farmers not only contributes to reducing the carbon footprint associated with long-distance food transportation but often means you're getting fresher, more nutrient-rich foods. We believe in the power of community and the benefits of a lifestyle that respects both our bodies and the planet. By choosing local, organic when possible, and staying informed, we can all contribute to a more sustainable and healthy world.