Recently a friend was telling me she was looking at introducing more organic food into her life, and when I mentioned the dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists she didn’t know what I was talking about, and it dawned on me that she might not be the only one! Not everyone spends their spare time reading about these kinds of things like I do (nerd alert!) so today I thought I would share this useful resource with all of you too!
The dirty dozen refers to those fruits and vegetables that are exposed to the highest proportion of pesticides, and are therefore more likely to still carry not-so-lovely residues when we purchase them. For this reason, these are the highest priority produce items to choose organic versions. They are generally foods we eat as is – as opposed to ones we peel – so even a good wash isn’t always enough to remove any residual pesticides. Some studies have shown that by choosing organic versions of these 12 fruits & veggies you can reduce pesticide exposure by up to 90%, which is obviously more than a little significant!
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For the most part this list is compiled based on US produce, but our practices are very similar, so the lists are likely to be the same. So, here’s what makes up the dirty dozen, in alphabetical order:
Some additional veggies to add to your organics list here in Australia are:
The clean fifteen are the direct opposite of the dirty dozen, they represent the produce that are least likely to require pesticides during their growth and therefore are a much lower risk of resulting nasty inclusions when they land on your plate. This means that if you can’t afford to buy organic for all your produce then these are the first ones you should drop, but still be aware of where they are grown and make sure to choose locally grown options.
Here’s what’s on the clean fifteen list:
- Kiwi Fruit
- Rock Melon
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Potato
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If you can, grow as many of the dirty dozen items yourself, because not only will you be absolutely sure what goes on them but it’s fun too! Things like spinach, strawberries and lettuce are generally really easy to grow even in small spaces, and if you’ve got the room I’ve heard potatoes can be pretty straightforward as well. The fruit trees might need a little more room, but nothing beats picking a peach or apple straight from the tree (I say that with confidence, my folks grow apples, peaches and plums!).
For everything you can’t grow, be sure to look out for the certified organic symbol, or shop from an accredited farmers market. Organic fruit & vegetable delivery boxes are an excellent option as well, they usually work out to be really cost effective and you can be sure you’re supporting local farmers too.
So, if you’re looking to start introducing more organic produce into your diet and reduce your exposure to pesticides, then start by purchasing organic versions of the dirty dozen!