The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen

When we decide that we would like to make some changes to eat healthier we are immediately discouraged by the price of vegetables. Then we are told it is best to eat organic and when we see those prices we give up all together thinking that is impossible so there is no point. It is like thinking about climbing the Everest mountain in one go rather than just focusing on the first stop.

I have some relief for those of you who are frustrated with the price of organic produce, there are things we can still buy non-organic that won’t be full of pesticides and run havoc on our digestive systems. It is quite easy to figure out, there is a list that is called the dirty dozen and another list that is called the clean fifteen.


As you must have already figured out the dirty dozen is about the foods that we should eat organically because of the amounts of residue pesticides that remain on the produce. There is hope though, the clean fifteen are vegetables that we can buy non-organic because the residue pesticides are low enough that they won’t have an adverse effect on our digestive system and our health.

So which to start with? The good or the bad? I am really big on buying organic but I also have issues about cost and I really appreciate the leeway that the clean fifteen allow me.

First of all I must inform everyone that it is really important to buy organic apples and anything that has to be with apples, like apple juice, apple sauce, etc. I know this may be frustrating but look at it this way: if you think that one cup of coffee is the difference between the bag of non-organic apples and organic apples maybe you could spare this cup once a week and replace it with a healthy apple choice. Unfortunately, too much pesticide remains on the non-organic apples and it is best to either forgo the apples or buy them organic.

Strawberries and most berries are also on the dirty dozen but it seems that there is less residue pesticide on the frozen ones. Kiwi fruit is a great replacement for strawberries since it has a thick skin and we aren’t eating the pesticides. Grapes, berries, peaches, nectarines, celery, sweet and hot peppers are all to be eaten organically.

Spinach, kale, lettuce and collard greens get raving reviews for health benefits but they also must be eaten organic. The good news and they are easy to grow and are plentiful in the organic farmer’s market. Peeling cucumbers and zucchini is a must and tomatoes must be purchased organic just like the berries. Potatoes might be better when peeled but sweet potatoes are a great alternative with skin thick enough to prevent the chemicals from getting through.

Onions, sweet corn on the cob, cabbage, eggplant, sweet potatoes, avocado, asparagus, frozen peas, mushrooms, melon, watermelon, pineapple, mango, grapefruit and papaya can all be bought as non-organic (if you are working with budget constraints) as they don’t keep high quantities of lingering pesticides.

So take solace in what you can buy non organic that is good for you, there is plenty to eat. Then from time to time skip a coffee, drink some water and splurge for an organic apple or tomato because you are worth it.

Coffee and wine aren’t on the dirty dozen but honestly how do you expect to rinse off any lingering pesticides. These products are found organic even in your local supermarket and would be the wiser choice for the same money as other products on the shelf.

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The Dirty Dozen:

Apples, Peaches, Nectarines, Grapes, Celery, Spinach, Red Peppers, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Snap Peas, Blueberries, Potatoes, Strawberries, Hot Peppers, Kale and Collard Greens

The Clean Fifteen:

Onions, Pineapples, Avocado, Corn, Asparagus, Cabbage, Sweet Peas, Watermelon, Mangos, Cantaloupe, Eggplant, Kiwi fruit, Sweet Potatoes, Grapefruit, Mushrooms