The New Dirty Dozen: What You Must Buy Organic

what is organic

Every year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a list of the most pesticide-laden produce, commonly called the “Dirty Dozen.”  Many fruits and veggies appear on this list every single year, but they might move up or down the list depending how many & what kinds of pesticides are found on all the samples tested.

Here’s this year’s Dirty Dozen:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Imported Nectarines
  7. Imported Grapes
  8. Bell Peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Domestic blueberries
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/Collard Greens

Yikes!  We eat lots these fruits and veggies at my house, and although I’m accustomed to buying apples, celery, peaches, and strawberries, I’ll admit I didn’t even know that potatoes, kale, or lettuce were on the list.  Reading this article about the amount of pesticides on fruits and veggies (Scary Facts: There are 112 approved pesticides for apples in the U.S, and 98% of apples tested had significant pesticide residue–gross!) is convincing me more and more that it’s best to buy everything organic when possible.

Why are pesticides such a big deal?

Here are just a few of the health problems pesticides have been known to cause:

  • IQ deficits among children
  • Cancer
  • Nervous system toxicity
  • Hormone system disruption
  • Severe health problems in farm workers who have contact with pesticides

What should you eat?

Try to buy the organic version of all the produce on the Dirty Dozen list.  This will help minimize your exposure to pesticides, as well eating mostly fruits and vegetables from the “Clean 15” list (the produce with the least amount of pesticides).

Here’s this year’s Clean 15:

  1. Onions
  2. Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Domestic Cantaloupe
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

Organic produce is often more expensive than conventional, but in the long-term, avoiding serious health problems makes it the cheaper choice (by a lot).  To save even more money, buy what’s in season or on sale and plan your meals around that, instead of the other way around.

Want to learn more about organics?

Here’s some info about other foods you may want to buy organic.


  • erinmidwife
    June 17, 2011 at 7:23 am

    I didn’t realize kale and potatoes are so contaminated. Thanks for this!

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