Ideally you would just buy everything organic. But if for any reason – financial or proximity or whatever – at least know that there are certain fruits and veggies that are more important to buy organic than others – called the dirty dozen. These are certain fruits and vegetables that tend to absorb more of these pesticides than others. The clean-15 are fruits and veggies that you don’t need to buy organic.
The Clean-15 (fruits and veggies that tend to have low levels of pesticides found in them) and the Dirty Dozen (those that usually absorb much higher amounts of pesticides) are updated each year based on testing. If you learn these it will make it easier to follow. These are listed below.
Generally those fruits or veggies with thick skins that are peeled before eating usually have less dangers involved if not organic. Examples include melons, citrus fruits, bananas, avocados, etc.
Fruits and veggies that you eat with the skin, such as apples, berries, peaches, zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, etc. you are going to expose yourself to a higher content of pesticides. The worst of these are the rough surface ones such as broccoli, cauliflower, peaches and strawberries, as they generally absorb a much higher amount of pesticides.
There are exceptions of some produce that don’t have skin but just don’t have high pesticide absorption for whatever reason. So best to write these lists down and keep them in your purse for reference.
The clean 15 – those not so crucial to get organic:
2. Sweet corn
5. Sweet peas – frozen
15. Sweet potatoes
(Note: it is also helpful to wash or soak non-organic produce in water with some white vinegar and lemon juice to help clean off pesticide residue, dirt, germs or wax coatings that are often used on apples and cucumbers.)
The dirty dozen – those most important to get organic:
7. Sweet bell peppers
8. Nectarines – imported
10. Cherry tomatoes
11. Snap peas – imported