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The Dirty Dozen & The Clean Fifteen

La Petite Maison Verte: The Dirty Dozen & The Clean Fifteen

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Dirty Dozen & The Clean Fifteen

My sister and I were talking on the phone today about buying organic produce vs conventional.  We were both in agreement that it's SOO worth it to spend the money on organics if you can afford it due to all of the harmful chemicals, pesticides and fungicides that are loaded onto many conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.  While the effects of those chemicals are harmful to humans - especially children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding - it is less widely known but also completely worth noting that the effects to the environment are just as harmful.

Conventional farmers spray insane amounts of chemicals onto the soil and the plants themselves.  The runoff from the farmland contaminates waterways and streams, causing all kinds of damage to the aquaculture, oh and by the way - it gets into a lot of our fish that we eat too, as a result.

There are so many reasons to choose organic produce that I would need an entire blog post to give it justice, but that's a post for another day....

Today, I wanted to share with you the Dirty Dozen list.  It's the list, compiled by the Environmental Working Group, of produce with the highest pesticide and chemical residue levels.  It's a great guide to use when you're deciding which organic fruits and vegetables are worth the extra price and which you can feel a little bit better about buying in the conventional variety.

This means that some of my FAVORITE fruits and veggies are some of the most contaminated.  Apples, strawberries, baby spinach, lettuce and blueberries are on the "Dirty" list.  We eat SO much lettuce and other leafy greens that I feel it is very important to buy the organic version, whereas we almost never eat potatoes so I often forget and just pick up the conventional variety if I ever do buy them.  I'm lucky that we can get fresh strawberries from local producers here in Florida, so I usually buy those from farms where I know no pesticides are used.

They also have a list called the Clean Fifteen which highlights the opposite end of the spectrum:  those fruits and veggies that typically have the least amount of pesticide and chemical residues present on them.  These are the items in the produce department which you can skip the organic and buy the conventional version and feel a little better about what chemicals might be present.

Happily, some of my other favorites are on THIS list!  Sweet potatoes, grapefruits, watermelon, mangoes, avocados and onions are items that I feel OK about buying from the conventional produce.  That being said, many times I can and do buy the organics, especially when its in-season and I see it for a good price!

Most of us can't afford to buy 100% organic fruits and vegetables all of the time.  Especially if we are eating the recommended servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day.  Speaking for myself and Brian - we eat WAY more than the USDA's recommended servings of fresh veggies.  It's the bulk of our diet and therefore we end up spending a lot more of our food budget on produce than we do in other areas of the grocery store.  No lie, my shopping cart is always 2/3 full of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Since we eat so many fruits and veggies, I have to keep cost in mind when I'm shopping in the produce department.  We don't have a limitless budget.  So, I try to keep The Dirty Dozen list and the Clean Fifteen in mind when shopping.  And to lessen my environmental impact even further, I always try to choose the locally grown and in-season fruits and vegetables, and avoid those grown far away.  It takes ridiculous amounts of fuel and resources to bring out-of-season produce to the USA from South America or other far away places.  Choosing locally-grown, or even better, keeping your own garden is a great way to insure you are decreasing your environmental footprint and working to keep your family, and our environment, healthy.

Now, I have a question for you guys:  How do you feel about organics vs. conventional produce?  Do you spend the extra money to buy organics or do you think it's all a bunch of crap?  I'm hoping to get a discussion going, so feel free to share your opinions, even if you think they may not be in line with mine.  I'd love to hear some other perspectives!



At May 21, 2012 at 11:50 AM , Anonymous B.o.B. said...

these are so great to know! i had zero idea on these. thanks so much for posting this. super excited about mangoes b/c i'm obsessed with them!

great meeting you yesterday!

At May 21, 2012 at 12:19 PM , Anonymous Jules said...

It was awesome to meet you too! If you like mangoes check out my post just before this one - I made Mango Lassi popsicles - AMAZING!

At May 21, 2012 at 7:45 PM , Anonymous Sneakers2sandals said...

Oh I agree with you 100% about buying organic! I always say would you rather eat dirt or chemicals? I think dirt. And if all those pesticides cause health problems it's probably cheaper to buy organic in the long run!

At May 22, 2012 at 5:47 PM , Anonymous xiomara said...

But did you know that an organic farmer can use pesticides and still be considered organic?

At May 22, 2012 at 5:48 PM , Anonymous Jules said...

A little dirt never hurt!

At May 22, 2012 at 5:49 PM , Anonymous Jules said...

Say WHAAAT?! Like, they can use organic pesticides? (i.e. naturally-occurring vs. manufactured chemicals?!)

At June 20, 2012 at 10:56 AM , Anonymous xiomara @ Parkesdale said...

Here's the article I read from Berkeley.

Also, here's another article from NPR about the "dirty dozen".

At June 20, 2012 at 10:57 AM , Anonymous xiomara @ Parkesdale said...

Here's the link from Berkeley

Here's a link from NPR regarding the "dirty dozen"


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