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The Dirty Dozen

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The Dirty Dozen

Keep the Most Chemicals Out of Your Sopping Cart With These 12 Foods

The Environmental Working Group publishes an annual ‘Dirty Dozen’ list that highlights the conventionally grown produce most likely to have the highest levels of toxins and contaminants- pesticides! There can be two or more pesticides on just one crop, so this is certainly a list to avoid- this is no joke. 


*[Based on tests conducted in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on close to 7,000 samples]

According to the Environmental Working Group, when you buy these 12 foods as organic vs conventional, you reduce the amount of toxins you consume daily by as much as 70-80%.


We can’t all afford to buy organic. This list helps you answer the question, “If I can only afford to buy SOME things organic, what should they be?” And if you do buy these items as conventional produce, at least you know to pay more attention washing your food before you consume these 12 crops. (Fruit and Veggie Wash listed below)


“The Dirty Dozen”


  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers













“Honorable Mentions”


Hot Peppers

Leafy Greens (including kale and collard greens)

*(Don’t meet the group’s criteria for the Dirty Dozen,” but both types of produce were shown to be contaminated with pesticides that are considered to be particularly toxic)



“The Clean Fifteen”


These are the EWG’s list of the fifteen fruits and veggies that- while not claiming to be completely chemical-free- are relatively safe to buy conventionally. If you have to save some pennies, in other words, these 15 items are where you pinch.

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn*
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas frozen
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mango
  9. Papayas*
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew Melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower
















*(A small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from GE seedstock. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid GE produce.)

Hopefully this helps you make more healthy decisions when on a budget, and avoid bringing a lot of toxins to the table.


For the non-organic produce you buy, here’s a natural veggie/fruit wash that you can make with common household items, and keep in a spray bottle to help wash/dissolve some of those toxins away:



Simple Homemade, Natural Veggie/Fruit Wash:


2 C Water

2 TBSP Lemon Juice

1/4 C Baking Soda

Pour the water, lemon juice, and baking soda into a spray bottle. Be careful, the lemon juice and baking soda will foam up. To use, spray on vegetables, and let sit for 5 minutes. Rinse the vegetables under cold, running water using a scrub brush.


*Here’s another resource for some more cleaners, for the tougher foods to clean (waxy apples and such):





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