The Dirty Dozen – What Organic Fruits & Vegetables You Should & Shouldn’t Buy

Please note: Posts may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. For more of our disclosure policy, click here. For more of our privacy and cookie policy, click here. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying Services LLC purchases.
The Dirty Dozen - What Organic Fruits and Vegetables You Should and Shouldn't Buy

Do you buy organic fruits and vegetables? Some fruits and vegetables are more “worth” buying than others. Environmental Working Group put out a list many years ago, of the fruits and vegetables that are well worth the extra cost of buying organic: You can lower your pesticide intake by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and choosing the least contaminated produce.

The Dirty Dozen

• Apples
• Celery
• Cherry Tomatoes
• Cucumbers
• Grapes
• Hot Peppers
• Nectarines – imported
• Peaches
• Potatoes
• Spinach
• Strawberries
• Sweet Bell Peppers

They are a Plus category which highlights two more produce: domestically-grown summer squash and leafy greens, specifically kale and collards. These crops did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen™ criteria but were commonly contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system.

Conversely, there are products they declare really aren’t worth the money to buy organic.

Clean 15

• Asparagus
• Avocados
• Cabbage
• Cantaloupe
• Eggplant
• Grapefruit
• Kiwi
• Mangoes
• Mushrooms
• Onions
• Papayas
• Pineapples
• Sweet Corn
• Sweet Peas – frozen
• Sweet Potatoes

As many of you know, Hubby and I have belonged to a CSA for years. Our current CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) isn’t organic, it is all natural although they follow organic protocol. As it was explained to me years ago by the lady we buy our pig from, getting certified organic isn’t a cheap or fast process. That means many smaller farms can’t do it, and according to our CSA owner, some older farms will never be able to become certified (she was speaking specifically about a local farm that has been in continuous business since the 1800s… never gonna happen, she said).

This year our CSA added fruit to our options, so it looks like everything on the Dirty Dozen list will be available to us via our CSA. And it looks like some of the Clean 15 will also be on our list – I wonder how corn makes that list? Ever see unsprayed corn? Ewwwww

Will you be joining a CSA this year? If so, what do they offer? Do you generally buy organic? Or is it pick and choose?

Past CSA Shares
Find a CSA
Porter Farms CSA (we belonged for years)
Rootdown Farm CSA (our 2013 CSA)
NYS Fruit and Vegetable Harvest Calendar
US Agricultural Data

Ann's Entitled Life Ann's Entitled Life Ann's Entitled Life Ann's Entitled Life Ann's Entitled Life Ann's Entitled Life


  1. Great list Ann! I had to laugh at your comment about un-sprayed corn, we grow corn the conventional way (with sprays to prevent insect damage) and still occasionally have to deal with corn borers 🙂 It is our humble opinion spraying corn is worthwhile because there the treats are numerous and there are many layers of husk acting as a barrier.

  2. Yep.. I’ve already paid for my subscription to my CSA for next year.. Looking forward to it as always.

    I dont always buy organic but if its available, I usually do buy it over conventional produce. The reason is 3-fold. Im voting with my dollars, Im letting my store know my preferences, and I get clean food.

    Im generally in agreement wtih the Dirty Dozen.. but there are a few on the Clean 15 list I disagree with.
    If I can find organic corn, that gets my vote.. Non-organic corn unless its raised by a local farm is most likely a GMO crop and that is enough for me to quit eating corn. Ok.. I rarely eat corn anyways, unless its locally grown on the cob, but I wouldnt eat commercial corn.
    Cabbage, Onions, & Sweet potatoes are the other few that I would buy organically if I can.. and do. I stocked up at the end of the season.. I dont know much about growing sweet potatoes, but I grew up in the middle of huge commercial farms where they grew cabbage, peppers, & onions and they spray them heavily and often. Not good at all.

    Also, it has been determined that when plants are sprayed, the poisons dont just sit on the surface.. its internalized in them just like it is on us and the toxins become embedded in the flesh of the plant and its entire system.. just like we do. You cant wash it away.. it becomes a part of its makeup.

    I buy organic any time I can.. even if it costs more.. I buy local organic first if I can.. I dont mind that a place isnt certified organic.. as long as I trust that their produce is as organic as the CO farms.

Speak Your Mind


Return to top of page