Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

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!

Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

Dirty Dozen

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:

  • Apples
  • Capsicum
  • Blueberries
  • Celery
  • Grapes
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach

Some additional veggies to add to your organics list here in Australia are:

  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Pears
  • Zucchini

Clean Fifteen

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:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Mangoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Pineapple
  • Rock Melon
  • Sweet Corn
  • Sweet Potato
  • Watermelon

Where To Shop

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!

Have you heard of the dirty dozen and clean fifteen before? Hopefully this has been helpful!

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6 Comments on Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

  1. merilyn
    November 14, 2015 at 7:17 am (8 years ago)

    I must be a nerd too! thanks liz!
    all good! i’m happy with that! … YAY!
    I love clever the best!
    yes, I knew about these, but must study closer! the Suzuki foundation
    provides the dirty dozen list!
    must look at them again too!
    enjoy your weekend hun! love m:)X

    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      November 14, 2015 at 8:33 am (8 years ago)

      I’m not surprised to hear you knew all about this too Merilyn! We can be nerds together xx

  2. Nicole - Champagne and Chips
    November 14, 2015 at 12:54 pm (8 years ago)

    I had not heard of this and it’s slightly terrifying – so many of the foods I eat are in the dirty dozen. Do you have any recommendations of some affordable organic boxes that are delivered? I don’t get time to go to farmers markets sadly.
    Thought provoking stuff
    Nicole – Champagne and Chips recently posted…The Purple Toaster of Happiness

    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      November 16, 2015 at 6:23 pm (8 years ago)

      Ceres do great organic fruit & veggie boxes and do home delivery, or pickup from a local ‘food host’. I’ve also used Greenline Organic before, and I believe Aussie Farmers Direct does an organic option as well xx

  3. Moni | Thoughts of a Moni
    November 17, 2015 at 10:25 am (8 years ago)

    Wow. I like to think of myself as reasonably aware of what I’m eating, and being health conscious, but I had no idea about this. We try to eat as much homegrown produce as possible, but there’s definitely things on the dirty dozen list that we purchase regularly… I might look into a Ceres box option…
    Moni | Thoughts of a Moni recently posted…The Breakfast Club

    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      November 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm (8 years ago)

      Ceres is fantastic, they’re a great place to visit for plants as well!


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