2015 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen – Is organic produce worth the expense?


Not sure if it’s worth shelling out the extra dough to buy organic produce? According to the USDA’s Environmental Working Group, in some cases it might be. Every year the EWG reports which fruits and vegetables have the highest levels of pesticide contamination and which have the least. Armed with this information you can decide for yourself when it’s worth spending the extra money to buy organic produce.

Unfortunately, the ever-popular apple tops the “dirty” list for the fifth year in a row. Apparently chemicals used to preserve the fruit are applied to apple crops both before and after harvest. But the good news is, for the second consecutive year, avocados top the “clean” list. Just in case you need another reason to eat more guacamole.

I recommend buying organic (and local) whenever possible. But if it’s not available or in your budget, you can use the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists to make an informed choice.

The Dirty Dozen (the most contaminated):

  1. Apples
  2. Peaches
  3. Nectarines
  4. Strawberries
  5. Grapes
  6. Celery
  7. Spinach
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Snap peas (imported)
  12. Potatoes

The Dirty Dozen Plus (Contamination levels weren’t high enough to make the Dirty Dozen list, but the pesticides present in these veggies are so highly toxic that the EWG recommends buying organic. If organic isn’t possible, the EWG recommends serving these vegetables cooked.):

  1. Leafy greens
  2. Hot peppers


The Clean Fifteen (the least contaminated):

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas (frozen)
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet potatoes

Read the Environmental Working Group’s full report here.


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