Dirty Dozen & Clean 15!

Since produce and farmer’s market season is upon us, I thought I might update people on this year’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list, which is put out by the Environmental Working Group. Simply put, not everyone has the money to buy 100% organic produce. This means shopping can become a pick and choose event as you stumble down the aisles wondering what you can buy conventional and what you should really try to buy organic!


“Here’s the Dirty Dozen list — the most pesticide-laden conventional produce you can buy. Many of these items have thin leaves or skins that make it easy for them to absorb more toxins. You should buy these fruits and vegetables organic whenever possible to minimize toxicity in your diet:






Nectarines (Imported)

Grapes (Imported)

Sweet Bell Peppers


Blueberries (Domestic)


Kale/Collard Greens”

Hmmm, even I need to do some re-evaluating! Recently I’ve switched over to buying organic apples, and since I don’t eat a bunch of them the price change isn’t too dramatic. I’ve always bought organic spinach (I find conventional spinach really tough) and kale. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things on this list that I still buy conventional, like Sweet Bell Peppers. At my grocery store they are $3.49/LB, which is a little pricey, seeing as they are so big, but at the Co-op I remember them being around $6.00/LB! Yikes! In fact, most of these Dirty Dozen fruits are generally pretty expensive to buy conventional. Thankfully I like all the fruits on the Clean 15 list, so maybe I’ll buy those ones more often and splurge once a month on organic  blueberries & strawberries.

“And here is the Clean 15 list — the cleanest conventional produce on the market. Some of these foods had no detectable pesticide residue at all. Note that many of the “clean” fruits and veggies have thick skins that make it harder for pesticides to permeate.

Sweet corn
Sweet peas
Cantaloupe (domestic)
Sweet potatoes

The first list made me want to clutch my throat in fear, but this one makes me breathe a sigh of relief. For one, we generally buy sweet potatoes (yams) more often than regular potatoes. Watermelon is one of my favorite summer treats and who doesn’t love mango and kiwi? I was surprised to see conventional mushroom were fine, which is great because we go through a lot of mushrooms on a weekly basis.

Shopping for food in this big-agricultural world isn’t perfect or easy. You have to take into consideration how far the foods are traveling, the rights of the workers (don’t even get me started on Chiquita Banana, Dole Pineapple, or the United Fruit Company—check out 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez), the environmental impact, or the effect it has on your health! Plus, you may be more interested in supporting a small, local farmer who uses pesticides rather than a large, faceless big-organic company. Sadly, there is a very slim chance you can have it all, so pick what matters to you! For me, I try to eat for the rights of workers and for my own health. Why? Because I realize that a lot of the foods I eat are grown in countries where people may not have as much as we do, including laws and regulations that protect them from being exploited. I of course really care about what goes into (and on) my body! Others might eat for more environmental reasons. Each is valid and good in its own way!

Peel Away ❤


Ps: The Environmental Working Group also has a neat section on their website called Skin Deep, which evaluates the chemical safety of beauty products you might have in your bathroom!