Why Choose Organic: The Dirty Dozen

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Why Choose Organic: The Dirty Dozen

For many people, grocery shopping can feel like quite a task. Walking back and forth down aisles isn't always the most thrilling activity, but it's certainly rewarding when the refrigerator and pantry are fully stocked.  

The produce section is always my first stop since the majority of my shopping list lives there. I consider myself a conscientious consumer and always try to find the best options for organic within my budget. However, there are times when non-organic produce does find its way into my shopping cart. When this happens, I always question how I can still continue to choose the best options without consuming too many chemical additives in my fruits and veggies.  

Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) works diligently to compile a list of the most popular non-organic produce items that rank the highest and lowest in pesticide contamination. After reviewing the 2021 list, I was shocked to find some of my favorite fruits made the top 5. Rightfully so, these items are dubbed the "Dirty Dozen!” 

Check out the full 2021 list below:  

  1. Strawberries  

  1. Spinach  

  1. Kale, collard and mustard greens  

  1. Nectarines  

  1. Apples  

  1. Grapes  

  1. Cherries  

  1. Peaches 

  1. Pears  

  1. Bell and hot peppers 

  1. Celery  

  1. Tomatoes 

After reviewing the list, my mind instantly thought through the ways this could be used to a shopper's advantage. Budget can be a determining factor for how we may shop, and by knowing which items fall under the Dirty Dozen, we can make a conscious decision to purchase the organic versions. 

Then there are the Clean Fifteen!  

  1. Avocados 

  1. Sweet Corn* 

  1. Pineapple 

  1. Onions 

  1. Papaya* 

  1. Sweet peas (frozen) 

  1. Eggplant 

  1. Asparagus  

  1. Broccoli 

  1. Cabbage 

  1. Kiwi 

  1. Cauliflower 

  1. Mushrooms 

  1. Honeydew Melon 

  1. Cantaloupe 

* A small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from genetically modified seeds. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid genetically modified produce. - EWG 

These are the 15 fruits and veggies that contained the least amount of pesticide residue out of the 46 test samples prepared for consumption. If the shopping budget doesn't allow for all organic produce, I'd feel better about adding these 15 non-organic items to my shopping cart.  

Recently, our very own Amy sat down with a toxicologist from the EWG, Alexis Temkin, to chat about the Dirty Dozen, the impact harmful chemicals can have on consumers and why choosing organic is a great way to skip the pesticides. Check out the full interview below!