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Are organic foods worth is? Here are which foods to buy organic, based on The Dirty Dozen 2021 and The Clean Fifteen 2021. Eat healthfully and save money.

Updated April 11, 2021

Which Foods to Buy Organic: The Dirty Dozen 2021

Organic is certainly a popular phrase these days, certainly much more than when I was growing up. But research from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has shown that most conventionally grown produce contains pesticides, and furthermore, recent studies suggest that eating high-pesticide produce can effect fertility¹. Since organic foods can be considerably more expensive than conventional, knowing the importance of which ones to buy organic vs. ones that may not be as pesticide-laden can be extremely helpful on your budget.

When you are at the store or farmers market, are there foods that you should really put your money into? Are there foods that you needn’t worry about as much with regards to pesticides? The EWG’s findings say that there are, but luckily, ones you needn’t worry as much about. So without further ado, here is the 2021 list from EWG on the “Dirty Dozen”, which helps illustrate which foods to buy organic:

2021 dirty dozen


2021 Dirty Dozen™ (Foods with the most pesticides – these are the foods that you SHOULD buy organic)

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale/Collard/Mustard greens
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Peaches
  9. Pears
  10. Bell and hot peppers
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes

The EWG further reports that what shoppers may not realize is that pesticide residue is common on conventional produce even after it has been carefully washed and peeled. The good news, is that with the Clean Fifteen™, there were minimal if any residues that were found.

2021 Clean Fifteen™

And along with the “bad,” there is good! In their analysis, the EWG found less than 1% of samples with any pesticides on avocados and sweet corn. More than 80% of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbages tested had no pesticide residues, and no single fruit from the below list tested positive for more than four pesticides. If you can’t buy all organic, the list below are the ones that are deemed “better” to get if you need to get conventional.

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Onions
  5. Papayas
  6. Frozen sweet peas
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Broccoli
  10. Cabbage
  11. Kiwifruit
  12. Cauliflower
  13. Mushrooms
  14. Honeydew
  15. Cantaloupe

* One caveat on these: A small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the US is produced from genetically modified seeds (GMO’s). Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid genetically modified produce.

Why I buy organic

If you know my story, you’ll know that I battle a few different things including hypothyroidism, mast cell activation syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few. I had my breast implants removed last year to lower the toxic load on my body and also follow a pretty clean diet, in addition to keeping up with supplements. I’ve been a believer in organics for almost 10 years now because I truly believe in lowering the chemicals in food when possible, but I always go back to this list, especially in working with my health coaching clients. This list is really a good gauge of where to put your money, but also some common sense comes into play: if a piece of produce has thick skin, it’s probable that it needn’t be organic. Soft-skinned fruits and vegetables are often times more susceptible to pesticides. If you do buy conventional foods, it’s a good idea to give them a quick clean before cutting into them as the knife can bring the pesticides on the outside into the fruit or vegetable.

How I clean my produce without chemicals

One last note, I know some of you have asked about cleaning supplies. Branch Basics has long been a favorite product for me since it is the only cleaning product I get, since you can literally use it for everything cleaning-wise. Think stain-remover, laundry, cleaning counters and everything in the kitchen. I use it to clean all of my produce and feel good about it since it’s all plant and mineral-based, and since it doesn’t leave a residue. And yes, I use it on both organic and conventional foods that I buy based on the suggestions above. I highly recommend it; try it for yourself and see if you don’t love it!

A natural way to clean produce (plant and mineral-based)


So what are your thoughts on the info above? Will this be impacting which foods you buy organic?


Source: ¹

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