Eating Well on a Budget – The Dirty Dozen & The Clean 15

Goodlifer: The Dirty Dozen & The Clean 15

In a perfect world all food would be organic and we would all be able to afford as much of it as we need. Since that world does not (yet) exist, we need to find ways to stretch our food-dollar while eating safe, non-contaminated foods. Some fruits and vegetables are more vulnerable to the chemicals used in conventional agriculture, while others remain mostly safe even when sprayed with pesticides. Meet the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen.

The Environmental Working Group has compiled these two lists after analyzing the harmful pesticide residue in some of our most common produce. It’s a very helpful tool to have on hand when you are in the grocery store. Learn them by heart, get the app or download and print the wallet-guide.

Goodlifer: The Dirty Dozen & The Clean 15

The growing consensus among scientists is that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can cause lasting damage to human health, especially during fetal development and early childhood. Scientists now know enough about the long-term consequences of ingesting these powerful chemicals to advise that we minimize our consumption of pesticides.

EWG research has found that people who eat five fruits and vegetables a day from the Dirty Dozen list consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Those who eat from the 15 least contaminated conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables ingest fewer than 2 pesticides daily. This guide helps us make informed choices to lower our dietary pesticide intake as much as possible.

The produce was tested as it is typically eaten (meaning washed, rinsed or peeled, depending on the type of produce). Rinsing reduces but does not eliminate pesticides. Peeling helps, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the skin. The best approach is to eat a varied diet, rinse all produce and buy organic whenever possible.

The Clean 15 (lowest in pesticides)
– Onions
– Avocado
– Sweet Corn (Frozen)
– Pineapple
– Mangos (Subtropical & Tropical)
– Sweet Peas (Frozen)
– Asparagus
– Kiwi Fruit (Subtropical & Tropical)
– Cabbage
– Eggplant
– Cantaloupe (Domestic)
– Watermelon
– Grapefruit
– Sweet Potato
– Honeydew Melon

The Dirty Dozen (always buy organic)
– Celery
– Peaches
– Strawberries
– Apples
– Blueberries (Domestic)
– Nectarines
– Bell Peppers
– Spinach
– Cherries
– Kale/Collard Greens
– Potatoes
– Grapes (Imported)

EWG analysts have developed the Guide based on data from nearly 89,000 tests for pesticide residues in produce conducted between 2000 and 2008 and collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. You can find a detailed description of the criteria EWG used to develop these rankings and the complete list of fruits and vegetables tested at the dedicated website,

Top photo by MarcelGermain, Creative Commons.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
5 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Great list. I wonder if it would be the same or similar for my location. Of course a lot of our fruits come from other locations, but things like mangos, bell peppers, and pineapples are grown here.

  2. Wow. Celery? I had no idea. I knew apples were near the top of the bad list, but celery seems so innocent. Asparagus being pretty clean also surprises me. It seems like it is hanging out there for the world of bugs to eat.

    Thanks pointing out the best items to buy organic.

  3. Wow thanks for posting this information! I had no idea some of those veggies were full of pesticides. I definitely eat a lot of the “dirty dozen” items regularly so I will now be reconsidering this! Very surprising list!

  4. Really a healthful tip
    Very informative article

  5. Definitely a great list to take to the store. I never realized some of the “dirty” ones used so much pesticides. I will definitely be using this on my weekend trip to the produce stand.

Submit your comment

Please enter your name

Your name is required

Please enter a valid email address

An email address is required

Please enter your message


What constitutes the good life? It’s a question we’ve asked ourselves since the dawn of time and something we all strive for. To us, the good life is not a destination but a journey. We want to see more positivity in the world. Thinking happy thoughts makes for happy people, and happy people are more productive, innovative and at peace with the world. We believe in the transformative power of good news.

Goodlifer © 2023 All Rights Reserved

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress