The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen

Being a vegetarian and trying to eat and cook as clean and healthy as possible,  I get asked a lot about what we should always try to buy organic. If I had my 'druthers, I would buy everything organic, but sometimes that's just not financially feasible.

The definition of “organic,” according to the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), is that animal products sold or labeled as organically produced are not given any kind of antibiotics or growth hormones, are only fed with organic feed and are not administered any type of medication aside from vaccinations or to treat an illness. Fruits and vegetables that are labeled and sold as organic are grown without using most pesticides or fertilizers with synthetic ingredients; there is no irradiation treatment; seeds and transplants are chemical-free; the fertilizer is natural.

Every year the Environmental Working Group, (EWG) publishes a list of the Dirty Dozen,  (things you should buy organic whenever possible) and a list of the Clean 15 (which are the least contaminated).

The following "Dirty Dozen Plus" had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy organic versions - or to grow them organically yourself:
    • Apples
    • Strawberries
    • Grapes
    • Celery
    • Peaches
    • Spinach
    • Sweet bell peppers
    • Nectarines
    • Cucumbers
    • Potatoes
    • Cherry tomatoes
    • Hot pepper

Plus these which may contain organophosphate insecticides, which EWG characterizes as "highly toxic" and of special concern:
    • Kale/collard greens
    • Summer squash

 The following "Clean 15" foods had the lowest pesticide load, and consequently are the safest conventionally grown crops to consume from the standpoint of pesticide contamination:
    • Onions
    • Sweet corn
    • Pineapples
    • Avocado
    • Cabbage
    • Sweet peas
    • Asparagus
    • Mangoes
    • Eggplant
    • Kiwi
    • Cantaloupe (domestic)
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Grapefruit
    • Papayas
    • Mushroom

I have this list taped on my fridge and saved in the Notes section of my phone for use when making grocery lists.

Thanks for listening!

Dianne (plant lover;)