Simply Healthy Family: The Dirty Dozen; Which Foods You Really Should Buy Organic


The Dirty Dozen; Which Foods You Really Should Buy Organic

O.K. Listen up! I hear over and over again how people can't afford to buy organic, in fact, neither can I, at least not entirely. So here is a list from one of my favorite sites, The Daily Green,  listing the foods you should absolutely buy organic, or not at all if you really can't afford to. There are safer options listed under each dirty fruit or veggie which contain similar vitamins.

These foods, mostly produce are listed as The Dirty Dozen. Appropriatley named I think since you are digesting more pesticides and chemicals than you are vitamins and nutrients! Errrrrghhhhh! So frusterating. Watch out also for coffee beans, cow milk and some meats which contain chemicals and antibiotics ( see Magda's blog, Be Nutritious for an excellent article regarding this. Magda also has tons of delicious vegitarian recipes that I can't wait to try!)

Did You Know?
Many of the coffee beans you buy are grown in countries that don't regulate use of chemicals and pesticides. Look for the USDA Organic label to ensure you're not buying beans that have been grown or processed with the use of potentially harmful chemicals.
Go a step or two further, and look for the Fair Trade Certified and Rainforest Alliance (or Bird Friendly) labels to ensure that your purchase supports farmers who are paid fairly and treated well. And look for shade-grown (Rainforest Alliance- or Bird Friendly-certified) varieties for the trifecta; that way you know the coffee is being grown under the canopy of the rainforest, leaving those ancient trees intact, along with the wildlife – particularly songbirds – that call them home.

Read more:

The Dirty Dozen!
1. Celery

Celery has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the chemicals (64 of them!) that are used on crops. Buy organic celery, or choose alternatives like broccoli, radishes and onions.

photo credit: Nina Shannon / Istock

2. Peaches

Multiple pesticides (as many as 62 of them) are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards.

photo credit: Melanie DeFazio / Istock
* Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include watermelon, tangerines, oranges and grapefruit.

3. Strawberries

If you buy strawberries, especially out of season, they're most likely imported from countries that use less-stringent regulations for pesticide use. 59 pesticides have been detected in residue on strawberries.

* Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include kiwi and pineapples.

Photo credit:  Me ;-)

4. Apples

Like peaches, apples are typically grown with the use of poisons to kill a variety of pests, from fungi to insects. Tests have found 42 different pesticides as residue on apples. Scrubbing and peeling doesn't eliminate chemical residue completely, so it's best to buy organic when it comes to apples. Peeling a fruit or vegetable also strips away many of their beneficial nutrients.

*Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include watermelon, bananas and tangerines.

Apple photo: Gloria Dawson / The Daily Green

5. Blueberries

New on the Dirty Dozen list in 2010, blueberries are treated with as many as 52 pesticides, making them one of the dirtiest berries on the market.

photo credit: Christine Glade / Istock

6. Nectarines

With 33 different types of pesticides found on nectarines, they rank up there with apples and peaches among the dirtiest tree fruit.

* Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include, watermelon, papaya and mango.

photo credit: Christoph Hähnel / Istock

7. Bell Peppers

Peppers have thin skins that don't offer much of a barrier to pesticides. They're often heavily sprayed with insecticides. (Tests have found 49 different pesticides on sweet bell peppers.)

* Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include green peas, broccoli and cabbage.

photo credit: Stockdisc

8. Spinach

New on the list for 2010, spinach can be laced with as many as 48 different pesticides, making it one of the most contaminated green leafy vegetable.

photo credit: Michael Balderas / Istock

9. Kale

Traditionally kale is known as a hardier vegetable that rarely suffers from pests and disease, but it was found to have high amounts of pesticide residue when tested this year.

* Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include cabbage, asparagus and broccoli.

photo credit: Suzannah Skelton / Istock

10. Cherries

Even locally grown cherries are not necessarily safe. In fact, in one survey in recent years, cherries grown in the U.S. were found to have three times more pesticide residue then imported cherries. Government testing has found 42 different pesticides on cherries. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include raspberries and cranberries.

Photo credit:  Me ;-)

11. Potatoes

America's popular spud re-appears on the 2010 dirty dozen list, after a year hiatus. America's favorite vegetable can be laced with as many as 37 different pesticides.
* Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include eggplant, cabbage and earthy mushrooms.

photo credit: Joseph Devenney / Getty Images

12. Grapes

Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically. (Only imported grapes make the 2010 Dirty Dozen list.) Vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides during different growth periods of the grape, and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape's thin skin. Remember, wine is made from grapes, which testing shows can harbor as many as 34 different pesticides. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include kiwi and raspberries.

photo credit: Brandon Laufenberg / Istock


* Remember, washing and peeling don't help remove the chemicals as they soak into the produce through the skins or roots! Sorry, I hate to be the bearer of bad news.



  1. I've seen my share of "dirty dozen" posts but this is by far my favorite. Not only are the pictures great, but I love how you included some safer alternatives if organic isn't an option. This will be the page I send my friends and family too when I am talking about the important of eating organic!

  2. Thanks for this vital piece of information. This was really helpful. But if we wash apples or spinach with water then the chemicals may go. Don't they?? Or if we boil them in hot water??

  3. A very interesting article. Kisses

  4. Sam, washing and peeling don't help remove the chemicals as they soak into the produce through the skins or roots! Pesticides are sprayed on produce many times while they are growing. Sorry, I hate to be the bearer of bad news.


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