Organic vs. Conventional

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Tomiko Peirano

Tomiko Peirano › Tomiko has amassed decades of experience in the food industry, from her family's restaurant in Oregon's ...


In 2011, the Environmental Working Group's released their Dirty Dozen™ and Clean Fifteen™ lists, which rank 53 popular (and conventional) fruits and vegetables based on their pesticide residue.

The EWG’s description of the test:

The Shopper's Guide to Pesticides ranks pesticide contamination for 53 popular fruits and vegetables based on an analysis of 51,000 tests for pesticides on these foods, conducted from 2000 to 2009 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the federal Food and Drug Administration. Nearly all the studies on which the guide is based tested produce after it had been rinsed or peeled.

These lists are a great help in shopping the produce aisle. Most of us would love to be able to buy all organic, but it's just not within our wallet-range and we have to make some decisions. Ever since I learned about these lists last year, I’ve relied on them to help me make the healthiest choices I can afford to when buying fresh produce.

The Dirty Dozen™ (in descending order):

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Imported nectarines
  • Imported grapes
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Domestic blueberries
  • Lettuce
  • Greens (kale/collard)

The Clean Fifteen™:

  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocados
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet peas
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Domestic cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Mushrooms

You can download the PDF here from the EWG website and you can also see the full list of 53 here.

There’s also a great illustrated version of the lists by that can be printed wallet-size, so you can keep it handy.

I really like having this information, it makes me much more thoughtful when I’m spending money on food – and that’s never a bad thing.

Have you been using these lists? Have they made it easier or harder for you to shop?