The “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen”: Excellus's guide to buying organic | Kids Out and About

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The “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen”: Excellus's guide to buying organic


by Janette Westman, Health and Wellness Consultant, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield

Have you debated whether you should buy organic produce for your family?

If so, you likely weighed a desire to avoid pesticides against the added costs associated with organic fruits and vegetables.

One option may be to buy organically for those fruits and vegetables that tend to contain more pesticides. The “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” chart below lists which fruits and vegetables tend to have higher or lower pesticide levels.

Organic fruits and vegetables are produced without the use of hormones, herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, or synthetic fertilizers. Whether you should buy organic is a personal decision to be made after weighing the pros and cons of each option.

For more information on organic produce, check out the Fruits & Veggies: More Matters website and the Environmental Working Group Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides (PDF file). Go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) website for the difference between “organic,” “100 percent organic” and “made with organic ingredients” labeling.

Remember always to rinse all of your fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including organic produce.

The following list only reflects measurable pesticide residues on the parts of the food that are normally consumed and after they’ve been washed and peeled. The list, compiled by the Environmental Working Group, is based on a statistical analysis of tests done by the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration.

Dirty Dozen Clean Fifteen
Celery Onions
Peaches Avocado
Strawberries Sweet corn
Apples Pineapple
Blueberries Mango
Nectarines Sweet peas
Bell peppers Asparagus
Spinach Kiwi
Cherries Cabbage
Kale/collard greens Eggplant
Potatoes Cantelope
Grapes (imported) Watermelon
Sweet potatoes
Honeydew melon