The Dirty Dozen & The Clean Fifteen (the Lowdown)

Think about it!

Our forefathers didn't have organic farming in mind when they raised their food. They survived on farming methods devoid of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

They didn't eat genetically modified foods or pesticide-laden produce. Needless to say, they lived longer and were healthier than most millennials.

Over the last century, modern farming methods have changed our food. Today we eat toxic burdened produce that harms the body in many ways.

The USDA's 2017 Pesticide Data Program states that there's:

“at least one pesticide on 70% of all produce”

This EWG (Environmental Working Group) checks this based on the annual samples collected. The tests confirm the pesticide contamination on popular produce.

Pesticide-laden produce spell health issues!

researcher microscope celery pesticideLet's be clear; you cannot nourish your body with toxin filled fruits and vegetables. Research confirms that pesticides pose health risks such as:

  • Hormone issues
  • Fertility problems
  • Nerve and brain-related illness
  • Certain Cancers
  • Skin, eye and lung irritation

This is why I always insist on buying organic produce. By choosing organically farmed foods, you avoid many health risks.

But Danette, organic is so expensive! I can't afford it all the time!!

I hear you; organic foods aren't affordable for everyone. I know it may seem a bit daunting to eat 100% organic within your budget. Luckily EWG comes to our rescue with a list.

EWG has a shopper's guide that lists the dirty dozen produce and the clean fifteen. It helps you eat clean produce without breaking the bank.

What is the Dirty Dozen list?

man mask basket dirty produceDirty Dozen gives you the list of produce that is heavy on pesticides.  Hence the name “dirty.”

Here's the 2019 dirty dozen list from EWG:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Tomatos
  • Celery
  • Potatoes

(and hot peppers, too!)

Be sure to buy ONLY organic whenever you choosing produce from the list above. Never buy these if they are conventionally grown.

For people on a budget, it is okay to choose non-organic from this list below, which is the “Clean Fifteen.”

Clean Fifteen gives you the list of produce that is least likely to be “dirty.” In other words, they contain the least amount of pesticides.

It's not as important to choose organic for the Clean Fifteen produce listed below:

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn*
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Onions
  • Papayas*
  • Eggplants
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwis
  • Cabbages
  • Cauliflower
  • Cantaloups
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Honey dew melons

*Please remember sweet corn, and papaya is genetically modified. Stay away from conventional corn and papaya to avoid GMO's and choose organic instead.

How to identify organic produce?

asian woman checking label produce supermarketLook for “USDA Organic” label on fruits and vegetables.

Identify by the Price Look Up codes (PLU).

  • Organic produce -Five digits starting with a 9
  • Conventional produce – Four digits
  • GMO produce – Five digits starting with an 8

If eating clean is one of your goals, it's crucial to avoid pesticide-laden produce. If that's the case, start out by buying produce that needs to be ONLY organic.

Avoid the “dirty dozen” and stay within the budget. Don't forget the “clean fifteen” list! You can buy conventional produce and don't have to worry about heavy pesticide residue.

If you are always looking for ways to eat healthy on a budget check out these 7 superfoods you can buy for less than a dollar.

Yours in health and happiness,


P.S. Please share this article with your health-conscious yet, budget-minded friends and I love reading your comments below too! Do you stick to organic for the dirty dozen now?