Weekly Tip: Know The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen


Interested in reducing your pesticide intake? Make the most of your food budget by choosing organic fruits and vegetables wisely.

This month, the Environmental Working Group released the Guide to Pesticides in Produce for 2013. You have probably heard of the two lists that come out of this guide each year – The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen. The Dirty Dozen includes the fruits and vegetables found to be the most contaminated with pesticides. The Clean Fifteen includes the fruits and vegetables with the least pesticides found on them.

For those of us on a budget who wish to decrease our pesticide intake, these lists provide key information for where we may want to invest our money in organics fruits and vegetables.

Key Steps:

  1. Review The Dirty Dozen list and circle those items that your family consumes on a regular basis.
  2. Make an effort to look for organic options for those circled items highest on the list. For example, my family eats loads of apples, strawberries and celery, so I make my biggest effort to buy those foods organic.
  3. Move down the list as your budget allows. This year, I’m trying to find a reasonably priced organic grape distributor at the farmers market to add to our list, since grapes have moved up on The Dirty Dozen list and the kids love them.

It should be noted that pretty much every expert (including the Environmental Working Group) agrees that eating conventional fruits and veggies is better for your health than not eating them at all. Due to food access, budget limitations and a million other reasons many do not have the ability to purchase organic fruits and vegetables. Eat your fruits and veggies any way you can!!


  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet Bell Peppers
  8. Nectarines – imported
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Potatoes
  11. Cherry Tomatoes
  12. Hot Peppers


  1. Corn
  2. Onions
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocados
  5. Cabbages
  6. Sweet Peas – frozen
  7. Papayas
  8. Mangoes
  9. Asparagus
  10. Eggplant
  11. Kiwi
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Sweet Potatoes
  15. Mushrooms

If you don’t want to memorize this list and are lucky enough to have a smart phone, EWG has a phone app with the lists. Go to the App Store and search for Dirty Dozen.  Be sure to get the EWG app and not the dirty joke app. Or get both… whatever!

For lots more information on all this, check out: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews.


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