No, it’s not a movie title! It’s the list of which produce is the cleanest of pesticides and which tends to be the dirtiest.  If you have to choose which produce to buy organic, due to costs, then you’ll definitely want to memorize this list.  Or, if you’re like me, and you can’t remember these things while you are standing in the produce section – download an app to your smartphone or a paper list to help you remember the list at:

The “dirty dozen” refers to the 12 foods you should always buy organic because they have the most pesticides sprayed on them.  In fact, if you only focus on purchasing these items in the organic section, you can eliminate as much as 14 different pesticides per day if you ate the traditional five servings per day of fruits and vegetables! Here’s the dirty dozen list –

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (domestic)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/Collard greens

Now, conversely, if you choose your five servings from the “Clean 15” list, you will consume less than 2 pesticides per day. Please remember that just because you buy organic doesn’t mean you can skip washing them, though! It’s still important to thoroughly wash all your fruits and vegetables before consuming them (unless, like with citrus or an onion, they have a protective covering on them).

A great way to save money on purchasing organic produce is to visit your local farmer’s market.  Not only will you help out your local growers, but you will be able to get fruits and vegetables grown without pesticides.  The only tricky part is not knowing exactly what will be for sale, so you may have to do the meal planning after you return from the market.  Another option is to join an organic food co-op in your area where you can get bulk discounts by buying a box of fruits and vegetables on a regular basis.

I also believe that when more people buy organic fruits and vegetables in their local markets or at specialty stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market, we will continue to see prices decline.  It’s simple economics – supply and demand.  So, let’s start buying the healthy stuff and quit consuming all those pesticides!