The Dirty Dozen.....and the Clean 15!


How to Buy Produce When Organic isn't always Available!


AboutThis is a guest post from the Talented Blogger- Christina Wiley- from Juggling Real Food and Real Life. Check her out and follow her on pinteresttwitter and facebook for fantastic updates, tips, and tricks on getting REAL!

Heather asked me here today to share with you some important information to help you with your produce purchases.  Have you ever wondered if there are certain foods that you really need to buy organic and which ones are OK to buy conventional?  I would love to buy everything organic, but that is just not always possible for me.  I am limited by the selection I find at the grocery store.  I try to go to my local Farmer's Market once a week (in season) and I belong to an organic co-op.  Even with all of those resources available to me, I still can't find everything I want organic.  I talk to a lot of folks who have limited food resources available to them in their community.  They are just as interested as I am in feeding their families the cleanest and most nutrient dense food they can find.  Many are frustrated that they can't find the produce they want.  We all want to feel good about our food purchases. 

Thankfully, early on I learned about the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen".  These are lists created by EWG which evaluate the foods with the most and least amount of pesticides used in farming them.  You can check out more on the Environmental Working Group here.  I use these lists as a guide when shopping my grocery store.  I know that when I buy onions that if I can't find organic then it is probably OK since they are on the Clean Fifteen list.  I've been trying to teach my family some shortcuts on this as well since a lot of times the only time we have to shop is at like 11:00 at night at the 24 hour grocery store. During these times, I send my husband and stay home with the kids.  What I taught him is that if it has a skin that you peal away, like a melon, then it is OK if it is not organic.  If you eat the skin, like strawberries, it is best to buy organic.  Although, not perfect it generally is logical and that helps when making quick decisions at the grocery store.

The Dirty Dozen - These are the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and are best to buy organic. (Again, whenever you can.)



  1. Apples                                                                                    
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet Bell Pepper
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce 
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries
  12. Potatoes
They have also added two more..............
  1. Green Beans
  2. Kale

The Clean Fifteen - These are the fruits and vegetables with the least contamination and are therefore a better bet when buying conventionally grown produce.

  1. Onions                                                                                            
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Eggplant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Sweet Potatoes
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Watermelon
  15. Mushrooms 



Bottom line for me............if it is a matter of eating highly processed foods or fresh fruits and vegetables, I am definitely going for the fresh produce.  That being said, I prefer to buy organics where possible.  The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists have been a huge help for me when shopping my regular grocery store.  They are also a great guide for budget conscious folks. Use them to help your efforts at eating Real.

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1 comment:

Juggling Real Food and Real Life said...

Thanks for allowing me to visit with your folks. I hope you are having a great week.

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