Friday, March 11, 2011

The Dirty Dozen and The Clean 15

     Everyone knows that eating organic produce is, in general, the best choice.  But what if you can't afford to eat only organically grown veggies and fruits?  Not to worry- according to the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization that dedicates itself to protecting public health- some of your common conventionally grown products are relatively low in pesticides and other toxins.  They've developed a list of the 15 conventionally grown products that are least likely to be grown with excessive amounts of pesticides as well as put together a list of what they dub "The Dirty Dozen"- the 12 vegetables and fruits that are packing high levels of toxins.  The theory is simple- swap the conventional items on the dirty dozen for organically grown counterparts and you can avoid a great many pesticides and chemicals in your produce.

The Clean 15 (from Best to Worst)
  • Onions
  • Avocados
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapple
  • Mangoes
  • Sweet Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Sweet Potato
  • Honeydew Melon
The Dirty Dozen (from Worst to Best)
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Nectarines
  • Bell Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cherries
  • Potatoes
  • Grapes (imported)


  1. I did not know that....thanks!
    I'm surprised carrots and other root veggies aren't on there, given that they suck so much out of the soil around them.

  2. I'm always a fan of the Dirty Dozen list being posted. To Beth - root vegetables must fall somewhere in the middle. Even the Clean 15 have chemicals on them, so they're definitely not clean by any means. Who knows, the soil may actually protect veggies from getting a full-force of pesticides!

  3. I suspect the difference being the growing time of root vegetables or the size of the crops being grown- carrots were always a quick grow on our farm with a high turn over.

    And yes, even the clean 15 are processed in standard conventional methods which include, but aren't limited to: pesticides, GMO, hybridization, and crop manipulation. However, due to the nature of the crops themselves, they either need less intervention to thrive or they have fewer natural predators due to the nature of the plant itself. Mango trees for example have very few insects that will feed on them- the wood and sap of the tree has some toxicity. Sweet corn (or at least the most popular varieties sold in the US) tends to be very GMO or hybridized to create a pest/disease/and drought resistant product. Add in a shorter growing season than a product like peaches, and it just makes sense that even the conventionally grown clean 15 could even be on the list.

    As I can afford it, I buy ALL organic produce. That being said, though, there are often months when I can't afford the organic label- that's when I swap to my Clean 15 list.


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