Organic produce – where should I put my money?


The dirty dozen and the clean fifteen.

Its not a surprise organic produce is a little bit more expensive. A lot more care, love and effort has been put in growing food without pesticides often on smaller farms. Eating organic on a smaller budget can be difficult, but you can make small changes buy focusing on buying the items that matter most.

Some great research has been done by the Environmental Working Group into the produce with the most and least pesticide residue  called the dirty dozen and the clean 15. Our overall health benefits by getting the best ingredients we can afford, whether its  meat, vegetables, fruit or whole grains. Pesticide are toxic by design, made to kill small things (bugs) they can have a negative impact on big things (Us)!

Generally fruit and vegetables with thick skins that are removed before eating are cleaner, as the pesticides are removed with the skin. There are also some veges that are naturally more resistant to bugs and need less treatment. Leafy vegetables and berries often soak up more of the pesticides due to their fragile nature.  Its interesting to note that apples have topped the dirty dozen for 4 years in a row! Spinach and Kale which are high on the healthy food arena to add to smoothies etc are also on the dirty list. Its a good idea to buy these organic in bulk and then cook and freeze (Tips and tricks to save time).

Should I avoid the foods listed in the dirty dozen?

Remember its always good to eat fresh whole fruit and vegetables, so don’t avoid the dirty dozen altogether! But if you can afford and have the option to buy that produce grown organically, then its a great choice. You can use the lists to focus your budget on spending more only on the worst impacted by pesticides listed in the dirty dozen. This will free up the rest of your budget to buy non organic clean 15 produce and a lot of other great wholegrain and pastured meats. Whole foods have less chemicals and more nutrients on average than processed foods.

But what if its all too hard?

Good things take time. Pick one thing you would like to buy organic versions of from the dirty dozen. Find a yummy recipe that uses clean fifteen ingredients and take it with you to the shop. Visit your local farmers market and see what they are selling, and have a chat to the farmers. They are great blokes.

Is there an app for that?

Yes! there is an app you can keep on your phone and consult when you are shopping. You can also download copies from the EWG’s website and print them out to keep around the house.

Here are the lists to take shopping, and remember always wash your produce.


The Dirty Dozen™ (in order of contamination)

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Capsicum (Sweet bell peppers)
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Snap peas
  • Potatoes
  • ** Kale has been added as the 13th most contaminated

The Clean Fifteen™ (in order of least contamination)

  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peas (Frozen)
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Melon (Cantaloupe)
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet potatoes

For more detailed information check out the EWG website.

What do you think about organic produce? Do you find it easy to incorporate into your lifestyle?

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