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The "Dirty Dozen" and how to prioritize your organic shopping

July 7, 2011

The most common argument out there against buying organic is the cost. I get it, I really do. It is more expensive. I could go on and on about the benefits of it anyways, how it really isnt that much more expensive, especially when you consider the increased quality and nutrients etc etc… But for some people it still doesnt matter. Every dollar counts. For anyone wanting to start moving in the direction of eating more organically, but just cant afford it, I suggest just getting started with one or two items. You know what you like to eat, you know what you will actually use, so telling you to stick yourself in the Organic aisle of your local grocery store probably wont get you far. I suggest you pick one or two produce items that are important to you, and start buying those organically. 

Each year the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization who focuses on research and advocacy of agriculture and its effect on public health (among other things..), releases a list they call their “Dirty Dozen”. It is a list of the 12 fruits and vegetables found with the highest amount of pesticide residue. Their recommendation is that for each item on the Dirty Dozen list, focus on buying organic instead. If you want some idea’s on items to transition to organic on your grocery list – this is a great place to start!

1. Apples
2. Celery 
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Imported nectarines
7. Imported grapes
8. Sweet bell peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Domestic blueberries
11.  Lettuce
12. Kale/collard greens

They also publish a list called the “Clean 15” which are items found with the least amount of pesticide residue. So if you want to which items you might be okay saving till the end of your organic transition – here you go!

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

These lists are a great place to start. Any other suggestions out there of items you have made the transition on which weren’t too cost prohibitive? I would love to hear them!

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