The Dirty Dozen: Top 12 Fruits and Veggies to Buy Organic

If you prefer organic foods, but are concerned about the added costs, check out the new organic shopping guide from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit environmental research organization in Washington, D.C.

In its annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce list, the EWG lists both the Clean 15—a list of fruits and veggies lowest in pesticides—as well as the Dirty Dozen, the fruits and veggies with the highest levels of pesticides. 

For budget-conscious shoppers, the Guide helps you shop knowing which items to prioritize on the organic list, and which you can buy conventional. 

According to the EWG, there is ‘growing consensus’ within the science community that even small doses of pesticides and other toxic chemicals can be linked to a host of problems, from increased cancer risk to issues in fetal and childhood development. 

Fortunately, you can lower your pesticide exposure by almost 90% simply by avoiding conventional versions of the fruits and vegetables listed in the Dirty Dozen list. And even if you can’t afford to buy organic for all the items on the Dirty Dozen, don’t fret. According to the EWG, “The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.” It’s better to have a conventional apple than a bag of potato chips or a bacon cheeseburger from your neighborhood fast food joint. 

We suggest keeping this guide with your grocery list or in your wallet so you can reference it whenever needed. It will become second nature in no time! Of course, for those not on a budget, buying organic as much as possible will help put in your vote to support a cleaner, more natural food production cycle in harmony with Mother Nature.

The EWG’s Dirty Dozen for 2013:

1. Apples

2. Celery

3. Cherry tomatoes

4. Grapes

5. Hot peppers

6. Nectarines (imported)

7. Peaches

8. Potatoes

9. Spinach

10. Strawberries

11. Sweet bell peppers

Plus: Kale, collard greens and summer squash


The EWG’s Clean Fifteen for 2013:

1. Asparagus

2. Avocados

3. Cabbage

4. Cantaloupe

5. Sweet corn

6. Eggplant

7. Grapefruit

8. Kiwi

9. Mangoes

10. Mushrooms

11. Onions

12. Papayas

13. Pineapples

14. Sweet peas (frozen)

15. Sweet potatoes

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