Going Organic: Your “Quick” Guide to Buying Organic Produce

We all know that eating organic produce is good for our bodies and the earth, but it isn’t always easy on the pocketbook. Now, wouldn’t you think that not purchasing mass quantities of pesticides would make things cheaper? Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

Still, if you’d like to purchase organic food for you and your family but aren’t sure if you can afford it, consider limiting your organic purchases to what the Environmental Working Group (EWG) calls the “Dirty Dozen.” And, no, they are not referring to the movie, though it is dirty in its own right.

The Dirty Dozen represents the foods that have been found to have the most pesticide residue on them and are the most important to buy organic. If you buy anything organic, it should be these 12 foods, since they tend to have higher levels of pesticides present in them when grown on a non-organic farm:

The Dirty Dozen

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (domestic)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens

The EWG has also identified the “Clean 15,” which are the fruits and vegetables lowest in pesticide residue. These foods have the lowest levels of contamination, usually due to a thick peel that protects the edible part of the food. It’s much less important that you buy these foods organic. And if you don’t buy anything organic, sticking mainly to these foods will significantly lower your pesticide exposure.


The Clean 15

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangos
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

Remember, eating fruits and vegetables is crucial to our health, and the benefits of consuming produce far outweigh the risks associated with pesticide exposure from conventionally grown (non-organic) produce. Eat your fruits and veggies!

Editor’s Note: In addition, non-organic does not always mean that no pesticides are present. Instead, it means that a lower rate of pesticides is present in farming and no pesticides are used in production. When in doubt, research is always the best policy.

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