Dirty Dozen: Foods You Should Always Buy Organic

November 25, 2016

Buying organic has so many benefits. It helps the environment by reducing harmful pesticide use, it supports small farms, it increases biodiversity, and it brings back heirloom fruits and vegetables. Eating organic is also healthier for us. Tests done by the USDA show that conventional foods contain pesticide residue, even after washing. These “dirty dozen,” fruits and vegetables contain the highest pesticide residue, and are foods you should always buy organic, even if you can’t afford to eat a 100% organic diet.

Ideally, everyone would have easy access to affordable organic food, but buying organic can be expensive, and sometimes even unavailable. But by focusing on buying these fruits and vegetables organic, you can significantly reduce your exposure to pesticides.


The Dirty Dozen List

The USDA has compiled this list of the “dirty dozen” – foods that you should always buy organic, if possible. According to samples tested, they found:

  1. Nectarines – 97.3% of nectarines contain pesticides
  2. Celery – 94.5% of celery contain pesticides
  3. Pears – 94.4% of pears contain pesticides
  4. Peaches – 93.7% of peaches contain pesticides
  5. Apples – 91% of apples contain pesticides
  6. Cherries – 91% of cherries contain pesticides
  7. Strawberries – 90% of strawberries contain pesticides
  8. Imported Grapes – 86% of imported grapes contain pesticides
  9. Spinach – 83.4% of spinach contain pesticides
  10. Potatoes – 79.3% of potatoes contain pesticides
  11. Bell Peppers – 68% of bell peppers contain pesticides
  12. Red Raspberries – 59% of red raspberries contain pesticides


The “Clean Foods” List

The foods listed below were found to have the least amount of pesticide residue when grown conventionally. Notice that most of these have thick skin or rinds that protect the fruit from pesticide contamination:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn (keep in mind, most conventional corn is genetically modified)
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Onions
  • Papaya
  • Peas
  • Pineapples


Eating organic can be challenging to do 100% of the time, but by always buying the “dirty dozen” foods organic, you can decrease your family’s pesticide exposure and help the environment too.

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