The Dirty Dozen

Have you heard of the dirty dozen?

It is a list of the twelve produce items that contain the highest levels of pesticides.  Ideally we would buy all organic, locally grown food, right?  However, it is not always available so unless we can grown our own, we have to rely on what is for sale in the grocery stores and farmers markets.

I like to look at this list of foods as “musts” for buying organic.  Or at least most of the time.  Especially items that you eat in decent quantities and regularly.  For me that is apples!  I usually try to buy organic, but often struggle with the “local vs. organic” debate when they are in season around here and often opt to support local.

Anyhow, moving on to the list,

The Dirty Dozen (Buy Organic):

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 and Collard Greens

There is also a “Clean 15” list which includes produce that is the lowest in pesticides.  This lists consists of the following:  onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, mango, eggplant, domestic cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit and mushrooms.  Source:  Environmental  Working Group

They mention that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is more important than the risks associated with pesticides.  That means that if you can only get conventional produce– go for it!  You’d be worse off not eating any fruits and veggies.  However, if you do have the choice of organic for foods on the dirty dozen list you should probably try to get them.

I  buy most of the items on the dirty dozen list as organic.  Even if this means paying a higher price at the store.  When we grocery shop, we are voting with our food dollars.  Think of it this way– when you buy something organic you are saying that you support healthier farming methods that are better for both humans and the earth.  If more people do this, hopefully organic farming will grow.

Just last week I was really in the mood for grapes (#7 on the list!) However, because they are not in season they only had the conventional grapes.  Still, I bought a bag.  But when the organic grapes are available I choose them!  Sweet bell peppers and blueberries are the other two that are hard to find organic.  I’ll buy fresh local blueberries in the summer and try not to think about what is sprayed on them.  I haven’t been brave enough to ask yet but I think this summer I will inquire at the place we go to pick them.  I always feel weird, wondering why it seems like I am the only one who cares or even thinks about such things.  Most of the time I buy the frozen organic blueberries at Whole Foods and either use them in smoothies or thaw them in the fridge to put in oatmeal.  Not quite the same as fresh, though.

Fresh blueberries are on sale at Stop and Shop right now~ buy one get one free (unfortunately not organic- from Chili)  Should I feel concerned??  The dirty dozen list specifies domestic.  Hmmm– something to look into.  You get two pints for $5 and that is a lot of blueberries!  I say go for it because the benefits of eating these fruits outweigh the risk of what is sprayed on them.  Actually don’t quote me on that…we can only hope 🙂

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how to make a super healthy Blueberry Cheezecake!

What items do you regularly try to buy organic?

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One Response to The Dirty Dozen

  1. Great post on the dirty dozen. I downloaded a app on my phone with the dirty dozen and clean 15 so when I’m at the store, I have an easy reference. They’ve actually shown that we get less phytochemicals from conventionally grown produce than from organic grown produce. Just another reason to shell out the bucks for organic!

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