It's OK to Not Always Buy Organic - Meet the Clean Fifteen & Dirty Dozen

Organic groceries are where discerning shoppers (who can afford it) are turning, and rightly so. Avoiding foods which were grown with help from man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives and supporting the movement towards more environmentally, healthy and sustainable farming is surely the obvious choice, and better for you and your loved ones in the long run.

But let’s be clear - non-organic produce needn’t  be avoided like the overripe banana in the fruit bowl, so don’t feel bad if your budget doesn’t quite stretch to 100% organic, 100% of the time! By choosing your non-organic food wisely and making sure you wash your fruit and veg thoroughly, you can cut your exposure to pesticides by over 80%...

Below lists of fruit and vegetables are what have become known as the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen - this shoppers guide to pesticides is curated and updated annually by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to help shoppers like ourselves make smarter decisions when it comes to grocery shopping. Not all non-organic foods are equal in terms of the amount of pesticide residue you’re likely to find on them. The “clean fifteen” have so little pesticide residue, that you may want to buy the non-organic versions of these and focus instead on getting organic versions of the ‘dirty dozen’ which have much higher pesticide residue.

Clean Fifteen

The Clean Fifteen refers to fifteen crops that have the lowest levels of pesticide contamination. As such, it’s OK to not worry about buying the organic version of these items...

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Frozen sweet peas
  5. Onions
  6. Papayas
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwis
  10. Cabbages
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Sweet melon
  13. Broccoli
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew melons

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen is a phrase that refers to 12 “dirty” crops that farmers use the most pesticides on, and which carry the highest level of residue pesticide according to annual studies. Proper washing does help, but if possible it’s best to buy the organic variety of these items….

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

Try to buy organic meat and eggs too!

Reasons it’s OK to not always buy organic foods:

Non-organic food is cheaper than organic food

Non-organic produce tends to last longer

Government bodies across the world now strictly regulate the use of pesticides and fertilisers, ban the use of specific varieties and test the amount of pesticide residue on every item before sale, so you can rest assured that although non-organic foods are farmed using man-made fertilisers and pesticides, there are still controls in place.

Washing does help

Non-organic items can taste just as good as organic items

Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake is always a good idea!